Inuit 1, Whale 0

Dave Killion — August 17, 2011

Whale! It's what's for dinner!

Last Monday, for the first time in about a hundred years, Iqualuit Inuit hunted and killed a bowhead whale

“It’s obvious, both from speaking with community members and watching footage on TV, that this historic event has brought a sense of pride and excitement to everyone who is fortunate enough to be a part of it,” (Edmonton, Nunavut MP Leona) Aglukkaq said in a Wednesday news release. “From elders to young children, this shared experience is a special memory that will be talked about for generations to come.”

Various native groups have been permitted to resume their traditional whaling for a few years now, and it appears that if it weren’t for government ineptitude, they could have  taken it up even before then –

“Until recently, DFO scientists claimed there were only several hundred bowhead whales in eastern Arctic waters, preventing their harvest in Nunavut.

But in 2007, they upped that estimate to at least 5,000 and decided that a controlled hunt will not put the species in danger.”

Well, for the whales’ sake, I hope the second estimate is closer than the first.  Personally, I am not opposed to whaling on humanitarian grounds, because as I often say, every wild animal is going to come to a bad end. But some people feel a particular kinship with these animals, and those particular folks can take some comfort knowing that the market is looking out for them –

“Although Nunavik was permitted to harvest one bowhead this year, after successful hunts in 2008 and 2009, no hunt was co-ordinated for 2011 because “the hunt can be expensive and labour intensive,” Kan said.”

So it may turn out that whaling will just prove to be too unprofitable to bother with. Unless the feds subsidize the hunt, which they might do in the name of cultural preservation or something. Then we will see whales killed in order to collect the subsidy. But as far as this hunt was concerned, there’s only one item I found disturbing –

“Journalists… were not allowed to document the hunt, one of three licences Ottawa permitted in Nunavut this year, as elders and hunters make every effort to shield themselves from criticism.”

I would be very interested to know how this nasty little bit of censorship was accomplished. If anyone knows, please help us out.

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