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Bowhead whale hunt in Quebec

Inuit living in the remote northern Quebec community of Kangirsujuaq are celebrating a successful bowhead whale hunt. Johnny Peters, vice-president of the Quebec Inuit organization Makivik Corporation has said that the 40-tonne whale is probably the first to be harvested in the community in about 100 years.

The whale was spotted by local hunters on the evening of Saturday 9 August 2008, and was butchered on Monday for meat and muktuk on a beach near the community of 600. Officials are inviting people to fly to Kangirsujuaq this week and help out, meat will then be distributed to 14 communities across Nunavik.

Speaking in Inuktitut, Kangirsujuaq hunt captain Aqoyaq Qisiiq said the hunters felt a great sense of relief when the whale was hunted although he admitted that he had moments when he doubted whether a bowhead would be caught during the nine-day hunt. Qisiiq added that many hunters shouted with joy and shed tears when the whale was killed. It then took close to eight hours for the hunters to tow the whale 27 kilometres from the hunting site to the beach in Kangirsujuaq. Volunteers then used rope and pulley to haul the whale out of the water.

The Marine Connection are very concerned at the Inuit decision to kill this whale, especially if, as stated by Mr Peters, it is the first whale to be harvested by the community in 100 years. This being the case, whale meat is obviously not an essential source of sustinance for the native peoples and we therefore question why the decision was taken to proceed with the hunt.

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Conservation through education - protecting whales, dolphins and the world's oceans for the future generations