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Eskimo whalers upbeat after International Whaling Commission meeting

July 14th, 2011 | Alaska Newspapers Staff Print this article   Email this article  

Joint Press Release from the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission & North Slope Borough:

North Slope Inupiat whalers said today they are satisfied with the results of this year's International Whaling Commission (IWC) meetings.

As the convention wrapped up on the British island of Jersey, members of the AEWC/NSB delegation expressed hope as they look forward to IWC renewal of their bowhead quota in 2012.

They also praised the U.S. delegation for its representation on behalf of Alaskan subsistence whaling concerns. North Slope Borough Mayor Itta remarked, "We are very grateful that U.S. Commissioner Monica Medina has made the bowhead quota a top priority."

IWC Scientific Committee members welcomed the new data available through NSB and AEWC's successful bowhead population count this year. No major scientific issues were identified that would affect renewal of the five-year subsistence quota at next year's meeting.

Highlights of this year's global meeting on whaling issues included a presentation by AEWC's Weapons Improvement Program Chair Eugene Brower on continued progress in whale harvest methods by Alaska's subsistence whalers.

Reducing the time to death of whales taken for subsistence is a big concern among anti-whaling nations. Eugene described the increased use of the penthrite projectile to achieve a more humane take. He emphasized AEWC's ongoing efforts to make the projectiles more widely available and to train whalers in their proper use.

Mayor Itta, AEWC Vice-Chair George Noongwook and AEWC Executive Director Johnny Aiken talked with representatives of environmental groups about conservation efforts spearheaded by the borough and AEWC.

These include AEWC's Conflict Avoidance Agreements with oil companies that have activities offshore and the borough's negotiated agreements with Shell to shut down any drilling operations during the bowhead migration. George Noongwook also discussed how conservation is woven into daily life in the Arctic.

Since more than half of the IWC commissioners are new to the organization since the last bowhead quota renewal in 2007, Alaskan participants made a major effort to educate them about Native culture and subsistence needs in Alaska.

AEWC and borough participants were joined by Alaska State Senator Lyman Hoffman in this effort. A detailed interview with a BBC reporter also produced a worthwhile look at subsistence whaling in the British press ("A World Built on Ice and Whales).

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