Alaska and Inuvialuit Beluga Whale Committee _AIBWC_ - An

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Alaska and Inuvialuit Beluga Whale Committee _AIBWC_ - An Powered By Docstoc
                                                              VOL. 46, NO. 2 (JUNE 1-3)   P. 134-137

                         Alaska and Inuvialuit Beluga Whale Committee (AIBWC) -
                                  An Initiative in “At Home Management”
                                  MARIE ADAMS!KATHRYN J. FROSTZ and LOIS A. HARWOOD3

                                           (Received 3 December 1991; accepted in revised form 22 April 1992)

     ABSTRACT. The Alaska and Inuvialuit Beluga Whale Committee (AIBWC) was formed 1988 to facilitate and promote the wise conservation,
     management and utilization beluga whales in Alaska the western Canadian Arctic. The membership committee consists of representatives
                                 of                        and                                                 of the
                                                                         and the
     h m coastal beluga whale hunting regions and communities in Alaska Mackenzie River           Delta in Canada, U.S. federal, state and local govemment
     agencies, and others, such as researchers and technical advisors. Only representatives beluga whale hunting communities vote on matters related
     to hunting, while the committee as a whole votes on  other issues. Harvest monitoring programs are planned and coordinated at the spring meeting,
     implemented during the whaling seasonby hunters and others and reported upon during the fall meeting. To date, the AIBWC has 1) established
     beluga whale research priorities, 2) coordinated or assisted with the collection of samples for genetic, contaminant and basic biological studies,
     3) provided fundingfor DNA studies, 4) commented on federal actions (e.g., relating to oil and gas exploration activity) with the potential toaffect
     beluga whales, beluga habitat or beluga hunting, 5) collected the most complete harvest data ever available for Alaska, 6) produced a newsletter
     highlighting importantmarine mammal issues for coastal residents of Alaska, and 7) sponsored the attendance of committee membersat meetings
                                                The                                                                     plan,
     of the International Whaling Commission. AIBWC recently ratifiedits draft Alaska beluga whale management a counterpart to the existing
     plan for beluga whale management in the western Canadian     Arctic, and has initiated discussionson a joint Inupiat-Inuvialuit plan for management
     of the shared Beaufort Sea beluga whale stock.
     Key words: beluga whale, Beaufort Sea, Bering Sea, management, subsistence harvest, Inuvialuit, Inupiat

     RÉSUMÉ. Le Alaska and Inuvialuit Beluga Whale Committee (comit6 le Mlouga de l’Alaska et de l’huvialuit [AIBWC]) a &6 form6 en 1988
     pour faciliter et encourager une saine conservation, gestion et utilisation des Mlougas en Alaska et dans l’Arctique occidental canadien. Le comit6
     est compos6 de reprksentants des communaut6s et des r6gions catibres de chasse au Mlouga en Alaska et dans le delta du Mackenzie au Canada,
     de reprksentants d’organismes gouvernementaux amkricains niveau f6d6ral et r6gional        ainsi qu’au niveau de l’gtat, et d’autres membres tels que
     des chercheurs et des conseillers scientifiques. Seuls les reprksentants des communauds de chasse au Mlouga ont droit de vote sur les questions
     traitant de la chasse, tandis que le comit6 au complet vote sur les autres questions. Des programmes de surveillance des prises sont planifiBs et
     coordonn6s lors de la reunion de printemps, mis en application par les chasseurs ou d’autres individus pendant la saison de chasse h la baleine,
     et ils font l’objet d’un rapportla dunion d’automne. Jusqu’i maintenant, le AIBWC a 1) ktabli des priorit6s de recherche sur le Mlouga, 2) coordonn6
     ou facilit6 le pr6lbvement                      ‘ ds
                               d’khantillons en vue d& e g6n&ques, d‘ktudes sur la contamination,e d‘&des fondamentales de biologie, 3) subventiod
     des &des sur l’A.D.N., 4) foumi ses commentaires sur mesures f&rales (p. ex., en rapport avec les activit6s d‘exploration p6trolibre
                                                              des                                                                               et gazibre)
     pouvant affecter les bblougas, leur habitat ou la chasse dont ils font l’objet, 5 ) rassembl6 les donnhs les plus complbtes jusqu’h pr6sent sur les
     prises en Alaska, 6) publi6 pour les dsidents des &tes alaskiennes un bulletin de nouvelles traitant surtout des grandes questions concernant les
     mammiferes marins, et 7) subventionnk la pr6sencede membres du comit6 aux r6unions de la Commission baleinibre internationale. Le AIBWC
     a ratifi6 rkemment l’6bauche de son plan de gestion du Mlougade l’Alaska, qui fait pendant au plan actuel de gestion du Mlouga dans l’Arctique
     occidental canadien, et a entam6 des pourparlers sur un plan gestion mixte Inupiat-Inuvialuit, pour stock baleinier commun mer deBeaufort.
                                                                  de                                       le                          en
     Mots cl&: bBouga, mer de Beaufort, mer de BBring, gestion, prise de subsistance, Inuvialuit, Inupiat
           Traduit pour le journal par N6sida Loyer.

In January 1988, the Inupiat of the North Slope of Alaska and                                      the Bering Sea population,
                                                               concerns itself with beluga whales of
the Inuvialuit of the western Canadian Arctic signed an inter- believed to number 25 O00 - 30 O00 (Bums andSeaman, 1985).
national agreement for the management of polar bears in the After leaving their Bering Sea wintering area in early spring,
Beaufort Sea. The agreement was unique in that it was initiatedthese whales are thought to separate into four groups, often
and carried through to completion the hunter groups. After referred to provisional management stocks (Frost and Lowry,
completing this agreement, the Inuvialuit Game Council (IGC) 1990). During summer, these provisional stocks are found in
and the North Slope Borough (NSB) Fish Game Management NortonSound,BristolBay,theeasternChukchiSeanear
Committee considered similar agreement for a second important Kotzebue Sound and Point and in Canadian watersof the
                       a                                                                  Lay
transboundaryresource, the belugawhale (Delphinapterus easternBeaufortSeaandAmundsenGulf.Inaddition,an
leucas). However, unlike the polarbear, the baseline data for  unknown portion of the Bering Sea population summers along
beluga whales had many areas where additionalinformation was                                                  The
                                                               the Siberian coast (Bums and Seaman, 1985). Cook Inlet
required for management. In particular, a coordinated effort   population, separate from the Bering Sea population and also
to obtain biological and harvest information was much needed                                      is a
                                                               within the mandate of the AIBWC, relict group that occurs
asafirststep.    In responsetothisneed,     an international   south of the Alaska Peninsula (Sergeant and Brodie, 1969).
committee,whichincludedrepresentativesofthehunting               Hunters from  many villages along the coast of Alaska harvest
community, was formed.                                         beluga whales from the above stocks during summer when the
              of Alaska Inuvialuit
   The goals the      and          BelugaWhale                 whales aggregate in coastal areas and during spring and fall
Committee (AIBWC) are to facilitate and promote the wise       migrations(Lowry et al. , 1989).Inuvialuitharvestbeluga
conservation, managementand utilization of beluga whales in whales from the Beaufort Sea stock during summer (Strong,
AlaskaandthewesternCanadianArctic.           The committee     1990), when a portion of the stock concentrates in the warm

‘North Slope Borough, Box 69, Barrow, Alaska 99723, U.S.A.
*Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 1300 College Road, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701, U.S.A.
3FisheriesJoint Management Committee, Box 2120, Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada XOE OTO
@The Arctic Institute of North America
                                                                                                               “ATHOMEMANAGEMENT” / 135

waters of the Mackenzie River estuary. To date, the harvests                  advisors, or a committeethatincludedbothgroupsasfull
                                      animals required to cover
have been self-limited to the number of                                       members. Clearly, a commission would have more latitude to
the basic subsistence needs of hunters and their families.                    make strong statements about hunting-related matters and to
                                                                              serve as an advocacy group for hunters of the beluga whale.
                     STRUCTURE OF THE AIBWC                                   However, a committee broader
                                                                                                       with       representationcould
                                                                              demonstrate that beluga whale conservation was of fundamental
  Since it was first formed, the Alaska and InuvialuitBeluga                  importance to all members, hunter and scientist alike. While
Whale Committee has five times. Meetings have          been held              the decision-makingprocess wouldbemorecomplex,               the
in Fairbanks, Alaska, although in the future they may be held                                                      of
                                                                              deliberations and recommendations such a committee would
in other parts of Alaska or in the western Canadian Arctic.                   represent full considerationof a variety of opinions andcarry
Meetings are held once or twice eachyear, usually before and                  the strength of consensus rather than the perceived bias of
after the whaling season. The five-member executive boardof                   advocacy. The      group votedunanimously  include
                                                                                                                        to     all
the committee consists people from cross section of villages
                       of              a                                      participants as full members..
andgovernment.Operatingby-laws           for the AIBWC were                     Membership of the committee includes representatives of
drafted in 1988 and ratified on 7 November 1989.                              hunting regions and corimunities in Alaska (NSB, Northwest
  The AIBWC hashunters, government scientists, researchers                                                         ,
                                                                              Alaska Native Association [NANA] Kawerak [Norton Sound],
and technical advisors as full voting members. During early                   Calista Corp [AVCP],Bristol Bay Native Association [BBNA]      ,
meetings, the group discussed at length the perceived advan-                  CookInletRegion       Inc. [CIRII)and the MackenzieDelta
tagesanddisadvantages of.being a commissionofbeluga                                                                                  ,Fig.
                                                                              region of Canada (Inuvialuit Settlement Region [ISR] 1) ,
hunters, with government           attending technical
                          scientists        as                                representatives of the Fisheries Joint Management Committee

                                  ARCTIC OCEAN

                                                                                                BEAUFORT SEA






             BERING SEA

    FIG. . Beluga hunting regions in
        I                              Alaska and Canada with hunter representation on AIBWC.
136 / M. ADAMS et al.

(FJMC) and InuvialuitGameCouncil(IGC),             U.S. federal     Sea region of Canada for over a decade, currently fundedby
(National Marine Fisheries Service [NMFS]) and state (Alaska FJMC. Through the NSB, a similar program was initiated in
Department of Fish and Game [ADF&G]) government agencies,          northern Alaska in 1987, shortly before the formation of the
Canada’s               of        and
          Department Fisheries Oceans     (DFO;                as  AIBWC. Informal harvest monitoring was conducted in other
observers) and others, such researchers and technical advisors. regionsofAlaskabyADF&G.Throughrecentadditional
   Fundamental to the structure of the committee is this strong funding described above, the AIBWC coordinated the collectio
representation by beluga whale hunters. They have substantial of harvest information from areas in Alaska not already cover
local knowledge of beluga whale movements and biology, a           within the NSB program.
                                                    to gain
considerable investment in the resource and much from                 The AIBWC provides an ongoing forum for coordination of
the sound management of beluga whale stocks. All AIBWC             these and other beluga programs in Alaska and the western
discussionsanddecisionsaboutmanagementactions              (e.g.,  Canadian Arctic and for sharing of data, results and ideas to
collection of harvest information biological samples) involve ensurethattheresultscollectedfromthesamestock                       are
hunter representatives, and in the many villages and communities   meaningful and comparable. Workshop sessions about harvest
harvest data and samples acquired by or through the resource monitoring and sampling programs have been held at           the regular
usersthemselves.Inotherwords,the           AIBWC isbuilton         AIBWC meetings. Data recording sheetsare standardized and
involvement in management fromthe roots up. In total, from                              are
                                                                   sampling protocols explained to ensure that the monitoring
both Alaska and Canada the hunters make up well over half          efforts in both western Canada and Alaska are coordinated.
the committee. Only representatives from beluga whale hunting The AIBWC has established beluga whale research priorities
communities vote on matters relating to hunting.                   and to date has 1) coordinated or assisted with the collection
   Government scientists, researchers and technical advisors       of samples for genetic, contardinant and basic biological studie
make up the balance of the committee. They provide technical 2) provided funding for DNA studies, andsupported beluga
support for conduct of programs and activities of the AIBWC
             the                                                   whale surveys. Some of the programs would not have come
and oversee a number of functions, including consultation with     about, at least not within time frame that has been achieved,
hunters,governmentandothers;collation,analysis,inter-              without the forum and assistance of the AIBWC.
pretation and reportingofdatacollectedonbehalfofthe                   AIBWC has taken the lead role in preparing a management
AIBWC; raising funds for the operation and activities of the       plan for beluga whales in Alaskan waters and for taking this
AIBWC; attending international meetings, etc. a similar way, plan to the villages and hunters in Alaska. Like other AIBWC
this component of thecommittee,is also from the rootsup, as        activities, drafting of the plan was shared by a cross section
the members are largely from the local and regional offices.       of committee members. The plan is similar in objectives, scope
However,governmentrepresentationonthe             AIBWC does       andcontent to the BeaufortSeaBelugaManagementPlan
ensure that upper levels of government  are aware of committee (FJMC, 1991) prepared for beluga whales in Canadian waters.
activities through their own members.                              The two plans were prepared independently, but with feedba
   Funding to hold AIBWC meetings has to date been providedbetween planning groups. The Alaskan plan has been accepted
by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA, for Alaskan hunters to                                                             the
                                                                   by the AIBWC and is currently being presented to hunters
attend), the NSB (for hunters from northern Alaska andNSB          in Alaska for ratification by each hunting village.
staff to attend) and FJMC and IGC (for Canadian delegates TheCanadianplanforBeaufortSeabelugawhaleswas
to attend). The attendance of   AIBWC government members is finalized and signed in          1991 (FJMC, 1991). The plan provides
supported by the various government agencies. An increased         a framework and guidelines for the long-term management of
funding base in recent years, primarily from BIA, and significant  beluga whales in the BeaufodMackenzie area     of Canada. It was
contributions of staff time by the NSBand ADF&G, have              prepared by the FJMC, with assistance and support of local
allowedthecommittee to expand the numberandtypeof                  beluga whale hunters and DFO.
activitiesthat are conductedandsupported.Theseinclude                 These plans lay the groundwork for an international agreeme
increased consultation with the beluga whale hunters in Alaskan    amongusergroupsinCanadaandAlaska.Huntersfrom
villagesregardingtheAlaskanBelugaManagementPlan,                   Diomede, Kivalina, Point Hope, Point Barrow and Kaktovik
publication of a newsletter, attendance at international meetings, in             and       from
                                                                            Alaska hunters Aklavik,   Inuvik,
support of new harvest monitoring programs and support of          Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk in western Canadaare believed to
population assessment work.                                                                        -
                                                                   harvest from the same stock the eastern Beaufort Sea stock.
                                                                   Discussions aabout                               management
                                                                                             joint Inupiat-Inuvialuit
                  WHATDOES THE AIBWC DO?                           agreement for this shared stock were initiated in      1991, in a
                                                                   manner similar to the polar bear agreement mentioned earlier.
   The committee has been involved in a number of programs Itisplannedthattheinternationalagreementwillinclude
and activities, including harvest monitoring, biological sampling directives regarding sharing of information and data, coordi-
and research, preparation of management plans, commenting nation of harvest and research activities and establishing a safe
on development activities that could affect beluga whales, beluga  upper limit for the combined harvests from Alaska and Canad
habitat or beluga hunting, ensuring community consultation and We expect that preparation of this agreement will be one of
involvement in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) most importanttasks ahead for the committee in the near future.
process. We expect this list will grow and evolve over time,                                                         in,
                                                                      Beluga whales migrate through, and summer areas where
as issues are resolved and new ones appear, as more data are       oil and gas exploration and production activities under way
collected and questionsare answered or raised, andas manage-       or are planned, where commercial fisheries    may take place in
ment plans and agreements are completed.                           the future, where contaminants may enter environments and fo
   There has been a relatively extensive beluga whale harvest chains and where hydroelectric projectsmay be developed in
monitoring program under in the Mackenzie        Deltakaufort      the future. The  AIBWC has discussed and formally commented
                                                                                                      “AT HOME MANAGEMENT” / 137

on federal actions relating to oil and gas exploration activity  and the number of beluga whales in each and increasing our
in Alaska. These comments provided background information understanding of the effects of industrial activity on survival
on beluga whale biology, important habitats and the utilization reproduction of beluga whale stocks. It is also important
ofbelugawhalesbysubsistencehuntersformanagersand                 thatSiberianbelugawhalestocksbeincludedin                   AIBWC
regulatoryagenciestouseintheissuance            of permitsand    discussions and that Russian hunters and scientists become a
licenses. In other more specific cases, AIBWC has provided part of the process.
a firm opinion concerning an issue or development.
   The AIBWC recently joined the Arctic Marine Resources                               ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Commission (AMRC) to deal with oil and gas issues along
the north and northwestern coasts of Alaska. organization
                                              This                 In this paper we have reported on the contributions and efforts of
was incorporated in February 1991, with representatives from                              in                                    of
                                                                 many people instrumental the formation, business and activitiesthe
the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, Bering and ChukchiAIBWC, most notably, but not limitedmembers of the committee.
Sea fishermen’s associations and the Alaska Eskimo Walrus        Collectively the AIBWCgratefully acknowledges funding provided by
                                                                 BIA and the various member agencies (NSB,ADF&F, FJMC, IGC,
Commission.                                                      NMFS, DFO), Herb Smelcer ofBIA,and the many huntersand
   As the IWC has indicated a growing interestthe manage-
                                                     in          scientists who have given freely of their in support of the various
ment of small cetaceans and thus beluga whales, the AIBWC programs sponsored by the AIBWC. Susan Rose ofArts, Inuvik,      Rose
will have an increasingly important role    at the international N.W.T., Canada,         the
                                                                                   drafted        figure. We thank Lloyd    Lowry
level. It is the AIBWC’s intent to demonstrate effective and     (ADF&G), Geoff Carroll (ADF&G), Norm Snow (JointSecretariat)
responsible “at home                  of beluga
                        management” the         whale            and three reviewers for comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript.
resource. TheAIBWC sponsors one member to attend IWC    the
meetings each year. In addition, in 1991 a scientist member of                               REFERENCES
AIBWC attended the IWC scientific subcommittee meetings
for discussions on beluga whales.                                BURNS, J.J., and SEAMAN, G.A. 1985. Investigationsof belukha whalesin
                                                                  coastal waters of western northern Alaska.II. Biology and ecology. Final
                                                                  Report, Outer Continental Shelf Environmental AssessmentPrognun Contract
                         CONCLUSION                               No. NA-81-RAC4NN49, Boulder, Colorado. Fairbanks: Alaska Department
                                                                  of Fish and Game. 60 p.
   The committee is young, being only three years old. It has   FJMC (Fisheries Joint Management Committee). 1991. Beaufort Sea beluga
been successful in this short time, however, in elevating aware- management plan. Available at Box 2120, Inuvik, Northwest Territories
nessaboutbelugawhalesand         the conservationissuesthat       XOE O T O , Canada. 28 p.
                                                                FROST, K.J., and LOWRY,L. 1990. Distribution, abundance, and movements
surround this resource, both nationally and internationally.
                                                          The     of belugawhales, Delphinapterus leucas, in coastal waters ofwestern
committee facilitated production of a management plan for         Alaska. In: Smith, T.G., ed. Advances in research on the beluga whale,
Alaskan beluga whales, which otherwise could not have been        Delphinaptem leucas. Canadian Bulletin of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
attempted. In the coming years, the AIBWC will coordinate         224~39-57.
preparation of an international agreement among user groups LOWRY, L.F., BURNS, J.J., andFROST,K.J.western and northern Alaskaof
                                                                  belukha whales,Delphinapterus leucas, in
                                                                                                                  1989.Recent harvests
for a shared stock of beluga whales. Harvest monitoring and       their potential impact on provisional management stocks. Report of the
sampling programs now under way andcoordinated among              International Whaling Commission 40:335-339.
western Canada and Alaska. With these programs in place to SERGEANT,D.E., and BRODIE,P.F. 1969. Body size inwhitewhales,
address basic information requirements, the committee can now     Delphinapterus leucas. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada
recommend,sponsorandsupportothertypesofresearch                 STRONG, T.J. 1990. The domestic beluga (Delphinapterusleucas) fishery in
programs. Important questions that face AIBWC and managers        the Mackenzie Riverestuary, Northwest Territories, 1981-1986. Canadian
in Alaska and Canada relate defining the management units
                             to                                   Data Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 800. 52 p.

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