Narwhal co-management in Nunavut: Deepened collaboration needed to improve partnership, process and outcome
Wirz-Held, Mirjam B. E.
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Since the ratification of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA) in 1993, narwhal harvesting in Nunavut has been governed by a formalized co-management regime. The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, a body created under the NLCA, has decision-making power, while the ultimate management authority remains with Fisheries and Oceans Canada as marine mammals are a federal responsibility. Calling for an effective system of wildlife management that complements Inuit harvesting rights, fosters public participation, and reflects the traditional and current patterns of Inuit harvesting and wildlife management, the NLCA provides an adequate framework for co-management. However, co-management processes take a long time to mature and the Nunavut narwhal co-management is no exception. While there have been attempts to devolve management responsibility to the local level, cooperation between the co-management partners is challenged by a lack of capacity among the local and regional hunters organizations as well as a lack of trust. The assessment of the shortcomings of the current co-management process revealed issues regarding communication, power sharing and the limited inclusion of Inuit knowledge and values in the decision-making process. A number of recommendations on advancing narwhal co-management are proposed, including capacity building among hunters, a true commitment to adaptive co-management which will facilitate social learning, and the engagement of a facilitator to assist in developing collaborative and effective ways of collecting and sharing information. Such coproduction of knowledge would help the Nunavut narwhal co-management partners to form their recommendations and decisions on a more inclusive and equitable knowledge base.