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Soundings Archive

NMFS Publishes Aboriginal Bowhead Whaling Quotas
On March 5, 2010, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service published Federal Register notice of the aboriginal subsistence whaling quota for bowhead whales. NMFS has assigned this quota to the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission. In the same notice, NMFS published other limitations on bowhead whale hunting that are adapted from regulations adopted at the 59th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

For 2010, the quota is 75 bowhead whales struck.

NMFS explains in its Federal Register notice that:

    "Aboriginal subsistence whaling in the United States is governed by the Whaling Convention Act (16 U.S.C. 916 et seq.). Regulations that implement the Act, found at 50 CFR 230.6, require the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to publish, at least annually, aboriginal subsistence whaling quotas and any other limitations on aboriginal subsistence whaling deriving from regulations of the IWC."


    " The IWC set a 5-year block quota of 280 bowhead whales landed. For each of the years 2008 through 2012, the number of bowhead whales struck may not exceed 67, except that any unused portion of a strike quota from any year, including 15 unused strikes from the 2003 through 2007 quota, may be carried forward. No more than 15 strikes may be added to the strike quota for any one year. At the end of the 2009 harvest, there were 15 unused strikes available for carry-forward, so the combined strike quota for 2010 is 82 (67 + 15).

    This arrangement ensures that the total quota of bowhead whales landed and struck in 2010 will not exceed the catch limits set by the IWC."
The IWC, and NMFS' regulation at 50 CFR 230.4(c), forbid the taking of calves or any whale accompanied by a calf. Other limitations include:
  • Only licensed whaling captains or crew under the control of those captains may engage in whaling, and they must follow the provisions of the relevant cooperative agreement between NOAA and a Native American whaling organization.

  • The aboriginal hunters must have adequate crew, supplies, and equipment. They may not receive money for participating in the hunt.

  • No person may sell or offer for sale whale products from whales taken in the hunt, except for authentic articles of Native handicrafts.

  • Captains may not continue to whale after the relevant quota is taken, after the season has been closed, or if their licenses have been suspended. They may not engage in whaling in a wasteful manner.
  • Click here to read NMFS' Federal Register notice

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