There is a real unwillingness to address the issue of aboriginal whale killing methods including by NGOs and the International Whaling Commission.
Now the National Geographic Magazine has featured the Inuit narwhal hunt in Arctic Bay, Canada, and the significant associated problems.
This has elicited a negative response from the hunters and a ban on the filming of whale hunts in Arctic Bay.
Philippa Brakes from The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society has commented:
““It is shocking and disappointing that an article published in National Geographic about the significant problems associated with this narwhal hunt, has elicited such a negative response from these hunters. Rather than face up to addressing the issues raised in the article about the welfare of these whales – including the fact that a 13 year-old boy was permitted to shoot narwhal all day, wounding many but landing none – the decision to ban the filming of these hunts does little other than confirm that these hunters have something to hide from the eyes of the world”.
Joe Tigullaraq, chair of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, said he worries that the portrayal of the Arctic Bay hunt will be seen by National Geographic’s many readers around the world as representative of all Nunavut hunters.
“We do have 20 other communities in Nunavut that hunt narwhals,” he said. “These other communities in Nunavut should not be painted with the same brush.”
However, Tigullaraq said he hopes the article’s publication may draw attention to flaws in present hunting techniques. “I think it’s an opportune time to consider the problems.”
Paul Nicklen, the article’s author, grew up in Kimmirut. He wrote on the National Geographic website that the narwhal story “was the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. I feel as if I’m betraying my friends.”
“But at the same time I hope that, ultimately, the DFO will work with the Inuit and help them find a better way so that their kids and grandkids can continue their traditions.
“In the end, I told this story because it’s obvious that the narwhals do not have a voice, and I’ve done my best to fairly represent them as well as the Inuit. As a journalist, I have to tell truthful, unbiased stories of what I see, no matter how difficult it may be at times.”