Tuktoyaktuk, DFO work to prevent trapped belugas
Efforts to prevent beluga whales from getting trapped in the Husky Lakes near Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., are proving successful.
People in the Arctic community began working with federal officials after beluga whales became trapped in ice forming on the narrows leading into the southern Husky Lakes in the fall of 2006 and 2007.
The trapped whales were harvested in 2006 and left to die the next year.
But no whales have been trapped in the lakes since 2007, partly due to close surveillance and the use of "pingers," small underwater electronic devices that emit sounds to scare the whales away.
"It has been tried in the past, but I think more with modern equipment ... it's going to be a lot better now," said James Pokiak, chairman of the Tuktoyaktuk hunters and trappers committee.
The hunters committee is working with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Inuvialuit Fisheries Joint Management Committee and local people who have been hired to work as whale monitors.
"We're very happy that for the last several years, there's been no more entrapments in the lake, and at this point it has been successful," said Kevin Bill, a fish management biologist with DFO.
"We've been somewhat fortunate as well that this year, at least, that whales weren't sighted in the area."
Pokiak said hunters in Tuktoyaktuk usually harvest whales from the sea, and it's less attractive to harvest them from the narrows because that area is very dangerous when it freezes up.
"By the time it's safe enough to go out there, the whales have already thinned down," he said.
The project will continue through next year at least. After that, the results and costs will be reviewed, and community members will be consulted.