Language selection


Terms of Reference

Meeting of the National Marine Mammal Peer Review Committee: Advice on community allocations for harvesting Baffin Bay narwhal

Zonal Advisory Meeting – National Capital and Central and Arctic regions

May 6, 2011

Chairperson: Don Bowen

Also available in Inuktitut / Inuktitut Atuinnaummijuq (PDF, 2 pages, 73KB)


The Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB) plans to begin the process of establishing Total Allowable Harvest (TAH) levels for narwhal. In preparation for that, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) presented to the NWMB a working hypothesis that narwhal summering aggregations represent distinct stocks (i.e., provisional management units), along with sustainable catch recommendations for each summering stock. Narwhals from one summering stock may be harvested by communities located near their summering aggregations areas and by more distant communities during spring/fall migrations. For that reason, science advice on sustainable catch limits applies to the catch in the local summering and wintering areas and during migrations between those areas. Narwhals in the migratory herds cannot be differentiated, and the proportion of different management units represented in spring/fall community catches is unknown. The proportion of different stocks in the migratory herds and in the spring/fall community catches cannot be differentiated. Therefore, total hunting pressure on individual stocks cannot be assessed directly. 

DFO Ecosystems and Fisheries Management has requested advice on how best to determine community allocations so that harvests from each of the summering stocks is consistent with the sustainable catch recommendation. A community harvest allocation model has been developed to allocate narwhal catches to each of the communities that harvest from Baffin Bay summering stocks. The model is based on all available information so that hunting mortality for each stock (on its summer range and during spring/fall migration) does not exceed conservation limits. 


The objectives of the meeting are to assess the validity and uncertainties of using this approach to determine community harvest allocations and review the underlying model assumptions to ensure they are scientifically sound and the conservation implications of using the model if the assumptions are not met.

Expected Publications

Scientific advice resulting from this meeting will be published as a Science Advisory Report. The supporting technical information will be published as a Research Document along with a Proceedings report that summarizes the discussions of the participants. These documents will be published on the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) website.


DFO Oceans and Science sector, DFO Ecosystems and Fisheries Management sector, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Qikiqtaalik Wildlife Board and external experts will be invited to participate in this science advisory meeting.


Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.

Date modified: