Delegates to the 67th International Whaling Commission meeting in Florianopolis, Brazil, have voted 58-7 to renew for seven more years the subsistence whaling quota for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission.
Alaska’s delegation to the IWC meeting was led by North Slope Borough Mayor Harry Brower and AEWC vice chair Crawford Patkotak.
“The importance of subsistence whaling for both the food security and cultural vitality of Arctic communities cannot be understated,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who called the decision an important step forward to ensure that whaling communities of Alaska’s Arctic are assured of their traditional right to the bowhead whale harvest.
The hard work of the Alaska delegation “is evident in the International Whaling Commission’s overwhelming support for Alaska’s subsistence whalers,” she said.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, cited the news as “a momentous day for all those who reside on the North Slope and Bering Strait regions” from Kaktovik to Little Diomede. The decision means that Alaska Native hunters “will be able to continue their traditional cultural practice and provide food security for generations to come,” he said. “This is a huge victory for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, who for years has had to fight every six years to maintain their right to subsistence whale harvest.”
Worldwide whale stocks are managed from the IWC, a group of 89 countries who have ratified the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
The Whaling Convention Act of 1949 allows for the harvest of certain whale species for nations that certify either a cultural or subsistence need for their aboriginal population, including the United States, Russia, Denmark (for Greenland) and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.