Science Advisory Report 2012/021
Advice on total allowable landed catch for the Baffin Bay narwhal population
- The Baffin Bay narwhal population is comprised of stocks that summer in the Canadian High Arctic and West Greenland. Four narwhal stocks are known to summer in Canadian waters: the Somerset Island, Admiralty Inlet, Eclipse Sound and East Baffin Island stocks.
- The Total Allowable Landed Catch (TALC) of the Canadian component of the Baffin Bay narwhal population depends on the assumptions made about the distributional behaviour of narwhals that summer in that region.
- Assuming philopatry of narwhals to specific summering areas, the TALC for the four summering stocks totals 1,123 narwhals per year, but allocation of the catch to communities should be done in a way that avoids exceeding the TALC for any one stock. A TALC applies to a stock regardless of where or when it is hunted.
- Assuming panmixia of narwhals within the Canadian portion of the Baffin Bay population, the lower and upper bounds for the TALC are 428 and 1,245 narwhals per year, respectively.
- There are risks associated with using a population level TALC, including overharvesting of smaller stocks, when the underlying assumption of panmixia is not met.
- It is recommended that management of Baffin Bay narwhals be based on summering stock aggregations until a much better understanding of mixing and site fidelity within the population has been developed. This approach is consistent with previous Science advice and the precautionary approach.
This Science Advisory Report is from the April 1, 2011 meeting of the National Marine Mammal Peer Review Committee: Baffin Bay Narwhal - Population level sustainable harvest (PBR, TALC) calculation. Additional publications from this process will be posted as they become available on the DFO Science Advisory Schedule.
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