Nunavut's Inuit land claims organization says it will work with the federal government to resolve a dispute over a trade ban on narwhal tusks, rather than go to court.


Inuit whalers in Nunavut cut up a harvested narwhal in this file image. Inuit have harvested narwhal for generations for their skin and blubber, as well as for the long tusks on the males. ((CBC))

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. said Monday that it is withdrawing its Federal Court application for a judicial review of the export ban, which was imposed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans late last year.

DFO has restricted the international export of narwhal tusks and related products from 17 Nunavut communities, including the territorial capital of Iqaluit.

Officials said they introduced the restrictions because narwhal in some areas are being overhunted.

But Nunavut Tunngavik argued that Inuit, who have harvested narwhal for generations, were not consulted  prior to the ban being introduced.

Meaningful, timely consultations

In a release issued late Monday afternoon, Nunavut Tunngavik chief executive Terry Audla said both parties have "agreed on the necessity of meaningful, timely consultations by government with Inuit on issues that may have an impact on Inuit rights."

"DFO has agreed to work with NTI to avoid unexpected decisions affecting Inuit," Audla stated in the release.

Nunavut Tunngavik and DFO signed an agreement on Friday that "recognized the importance of sustainable international trade of wildlife parts to the cultural, social and economic well-being of Inuit," according to the release.

Audla said both parties will work with other partners on narwhal management, including quotas and research, and fill gaps in scientific knowledge about narwhal populations in Jones Sound.

Nunavut Tunngavik did not say if DFO's current export ban will be lifted anytime soon.