In 2006, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB) identified their intent to begin the process of setting Total Allowable Harvest (TAH) levels and Basic Needs Levels (BNLs) for stocks in the Nunavut Settlement Area (NSA). Fisheries and Aquaculture Management (FAM) in the Eastern Arctic Area office received a request for advice from the NWMB to support their setting of TAH levels for Cumberland Sound Arctic Char stocks. FAM identified priority stocks in the area, including Kingnait Fjord, for advice on total allowable harvest levels in their request submitted to DFO Science in December 2006. In April 2009, the NWMB announced they would be conducting a Public Hearing on June 2, 2009 to consider the level of TAH, the Basic Needs Level and the Surplus for the Arctic Char fishery in Kingnait Fjord. FAM then notified Science of the need for updated information and advice for Kingnait Fjord Arctic Char.
The Arctic Fisheries Scientific Advisory Committee reviewed data and developed advice for the Kingnait Fjord Arctic Char fishery in 1994/1995 (Cosens et al. 1998) in response to concerns expressed by DFO and the Pangnirtung Hunters and Trappers Association (HTA) regarding the level of harvest of the Kingnait Fjord Arctic Char stocks. In 2000, the HTA requested that the NWMB close Kingnait Fjord to commercial fishing as the population seemed to be in decline. The NWMB decided to close the waters to commercial fishing for at least five years and encouraged the community to minimize their subsistence fishing to aid recovery of the stocks. In 2002, and again in 2003, the HTA requested that Kingnait Fjord be reopened to commercial fishing. DFO Science provided advice following each request. Based on analysis of the samples collected in 2003, and applying the precautionary approach, DFO Science indicated that a total harvest (from all sources) of 2000 kg (4409 lb) would pose a low level of risk to the population. DFO Science also indicated that collection of biological data should be required. An annual exploratory licence with a 2000 kg (4409 lb) quota has been issued for this fishery since summer 2005/2006.
All biological data available for Kingnait Fjord Arctic Char were considered for this assessment, including how these data may support a decision on TAH. Given this information and advice is needed prior to June 2, 2009, and since the NWMB is the final advisory body for this request, it was determined that a Science Special Response Process would be used.
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