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Consultation Workbook of the Ungava beluga whales

Prohibitions and recovery strategy

This consultation workbook was designed so that stakeholders can better understand the effects upon their activities of adding the Ungava Bay and Eastern Hudson Bay Beluga populations to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. If listed, SARA prohibitions will automatically apply to these populations, as indicated in section 1.3 of this workbook

Adding these populations to the List would also make the development and implementation of a Recovery Strategy (and an Action plan) for the recovery of the Beluga populations mandatory; hunters would be expected to comply with it for the subsistence hunting to be allowed to continue. Moreover, activities that could damage critical habitat of the species would be banned.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has already initiated the development of a recovery strategy for these two Beluga populations, and a recovery team has been established. The Recovery Team is composed of Inuit representatives and DFO scientists and resource managers. In this way traditional knowledge and scientific information can be exchanged and experiences shared with a common objective in mind: the recovery of the Ungava Bay and Eastern Hudson Bay Beluga populations.

The proposed goals of the recovery strategy are (1) to ensure that the Ungava Bay Beluga population is sufficiently large to avoid extirpation and (2) to ensure that the Eastern Hudson Bay Beluga population doubles to around 4,000 animals, a level where the population would become less sensitive to threats, including harvesting and disturbance.

Three recovery objectives were proposed to attain these goals: (1) harvest to levels that would allow increase of the two populations while (2) recognizing the importance of Beluga populations to Inuit culture and nutrition and (3) to ensure the identification and the protection of critical habitats for these two populations.

The recovery strategy could thus allow hunting as long as the recovery of the two populations is not impaired. Guidelines for this activity will be established in regard to the recovery needs of these populations of belugas, all the while considering and taking into account the importance of this practice for the Inuit people.