Overhunting Threatens Greenland Narwhals

AWI and more than 30 other animal protection and conservation organizations have called on the government of Greenland to immediately cancel hunting quotas for 50 narwhals from three populations in Southeast Greenland that face imminent extinction due to hunting pressure. Our concerns echo repeated warnings by scientists from Greenland’s own Institute of Natural Resources and from the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO, a regional intergovernmental organization for the management of marine mammals in the North Atlantic). In October, a NAMMCO working group stated unequivocally that the quota should be reduced “to avoid the extinction of these stocks in the near future.”

The warnings, however, were rejected by the Ministry for Fishing and Hunting, which insists that canceling the quota would “threaten food supply and cultural continuity for the communities in East Greenland.” This argument is undermined, though, by recent studies suggesting that overhunting in the East is driven not by local need but by high demand and increasing prices paid for narwhal mattak (skin and blubber) in the larger communities of West Greenland. 

Efforts to convince Greenland to end the three hunts will continue at the May meeting of the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee, to be held virtually.

Read more articles about: