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Quota disputes and subsistence whaling in Qeqertarsuaq, Greenland

  • Pelle Tejsner (a1)


In Qeqertarsuaq (Disco Island), northwest Greenland, local disputes about the allocation of annual whaling quotas for beluga and narwhals feature as a source of conflict between state-imposed categories of occupational and non-occupational hunters. The national authorities’ co-management regime for the regulation of whale quotas has triggered the creation of new socio-economic groupings and compartmentalised respective groups of hunters in the process. Although the rigid legal categories have impacted upon the social unity and conduct of whaling in Qeqertarsuaq, and remain difficult to navigate, local whalers and their families nevertheless improvise and mould their interests around the legal frameworks in everyday interpretations of national and municipal quota allocations. The article argues that, in the process of receiving and interpreting annual quota allocations, hunters and their families draw on locally varying environmental and ecological circumstances and that their negotiation of current regulations, in turn, suggests a further consideration of the social aspects as these inform local knowledge about whales and wider socio-economic circumstances governing whaling in Qeqertarsuaq. In reviewing local receptions of annual quota allocations, the article assesses how whaling regulations are not just about the management of whale stocks but also about the management of whalers and their families and how this then calls for increased recognition of the fact that issues of social sustainability are intricately tied to contemporary concerns for environmental sustainability in Arctic whaling.



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Polar Record
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