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Narwal hunt wraps up in Repulse Bay

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, August 15, 2007

REPULSE BAY - The narwhal hunt in Repulse Bay has been deemed a success by the Arviq Hunters and Trappers Organization (HTO), despite the fact the community felt more tags should have been issued.

There were 72 narwhal tags issued to Repulse, while Rankin Inlet and Coral Harbour were each granted 10.

Both Whale Cove and Chesterfield Inlet were issued five tags.

Arviq HTO chairperson Michel Akkuardjuk said the hunt was successful and the HTO is quite happy with the way things went.

"Many of the narwhal were landed close to shore, with almost every boat in Repulse involved in the hunt, so there were many people who could watch the hunters as the narwhal were being caught," said Akkuardjuk.

"There were between two to four people on each boat taking part in the hunt."

Repulse hunters still use a traditional harpoon to strike narwhal.

Akkuardjuk said there were very few narwhal struck and lost this year.

He said that's common when the narwhal are close to shore and many boats are hunting together.

"The community is always excited about the hunt.

"When it begins and the narwhal start to come in, everyone who wants mUktaaq is given some.

"When the hunters get close to shore with the narwhal, someone always goes on a CB or local radio to tell everyone who wants muktaaq to come get it.

"Just about everyone in town co mes for some and I did not hear of anyone going without this year."

Akkuardjuk said local hunters report there are many narwhal in the bay.

He said while both the community and the HTO support protecting narwhal numbers, more tags could have been issued this year because there was a need in the hamlet.

"We're not seeing that their (narwhal) numbers are down, but we were only given 72 this year so that's it.

"The other four communities that get tags also come to here to hunt narwhal."

Akkuardjuk said the Repulse tags were used on a first-come, first-serve basis.

He said once a narwhal was landed, the hunter came to the HTO office to get a tag for the animal.

"Our hunters are told when we're down to about eight tags so they can contact the HTO office right away if they catch a whale. "That allows us to keep an accurate count so we don't go over our quota.

"There were five tags left on Wednesday (Aug. 8) and, as soon as the fifth narwhal was harpooned, the hunt stopped right away."