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Sentient beings and wildlife resources: Inuit, beluga whales and management regimes in the Canadian Arctic

Tyrrell, Martina



Human Ecology



Beluga whale hunting is one of the most social subsistence hunting activities to take place in the Canadian Arctic. Through the harvest, distribution and consumption of beluga whales, Inuit identity and social relationships are affirmed. The whale-hunting complex is influenced by beliefs that beluga whales are sentient beings who inhabit a shared social space with humans. Yet, across the region beluga whales are perceived by wildlife managers as scarce resources and as such require protection through the imposition of management plans. There is currently no management of whales on the west coast of Hudson Bay, in Nunavut. In 2002, Inuit there were requested to sell part of their whale harvest to Inuit in Nunavik, northern Quebec, where hunting quotas exist. The outcome of this event was concern in Nunavut for the future of the whale hunt, and a deepening sense of powerlessness in Nunavik due to the management of the whale harvest. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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