EBM11: Conservation and sustainable harvest

Date: Thursday October 11, 2018

Location: Valtuustosali, City Hall

Time: 13:30-15:00

Small-scale, traditional harvest of mammals, birds and fish has provided the foundation for Arctic societies since humans first arrived in the region, and continues to do so today for many people in the Arctic. The Arctic Biodiversity Assessment called for the sustainable management of the Arctic’s living resources and their habitat. Improved management and conservation actions are based on greater understanding of the potential for harm to species and ecosystems, better regulation and enforcement, and in many cases on greater engagement with Arctic peoples. The incorporation of traditional values, practices and knowledge can help improve both management and enforcement. This session explores successful harvest management practices and explores additional places where these approaches could help to achieve biodiversity, while fulfilling various and Sustainable Development Goals.

Chairs: Alexander Shestakov, CBD; Gregor Gilbert, Makivik Corporation

Format: Series of presentations followed by discussion


  1. Quantifying the impact of hunting and oiling on Brünnich’s guillemots Uria lomvia in the Northwest Atlantic: Morten Frederiksen, Aarhus University 
  2. Understanding Alaskan Inuit food security and conservation through use: Carolina Behe, Inuit Circumpolar Council pdf
  3. Reconciliating conservation and sustainable harvest: Geneviève Desportes, NAMMCOl pdf
  4. A participatory approach to reducing the poaching of Bewick’s swans in the Russian Arctic: Julia Newth, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trustl pdf
  5. Salmon and salmon-dependent people in Alaska: Highlights of an interdisciplinary research initiative: Peter Westley, University of Alaska Fairbanksl pdf
  6. How aboriginal hunting in the Northeast of the Russian Arctic influences migratory waterbird population? Konstantin Klokov, Saint-Petersburg State Universityl pdf


Quantifying the impact of hunting and oiling on Brünnich’s guillemots Uria lomvia in the Northwest Atlantic

Morten Frederiksen, Aarhus University

The Brünnich’s guillemot (or thick-billed murre) is a numerous pan-Arctic seabird, but several Atlantic breeding populations are declining. The species is subject to traditional harvest in the important wintering areas off West Greenland and Newfoundland, and has been subject to chronic oil pollution where major shipping converge on the east coast of Canada. Until recently, knowledge on migration routes and winter distribution has been insufficient to assess the impact of these mortality sources on specific breeding populations. We collate existing information on mortality from bag statistics in Greenland and Canada and studies of oiling off Newfoundland, as well as new data on age distribution in the hunting bag. Based on the results of recent tracking studies, we construct a spatially explicit population model that allocates hunting and oiling mortality to breeding populations and estimates the impact on their growth rate. Results indicate that annual population growth rate is depressed by 0.011 – 0.041 by anthropogenic mortality sources. In addition to local breeders, hunting in Greenland mainly affects declining breeding populations in Svalbard and Iceland, while hunting and oiling in Newfoundland mainly affects guillemots breeding in Arctic Canada and north-west Greenland, where most populations are relatively stable. The strongest impact is predicted on the small breeding population in Atlantic Canada, which winters mainly on the Newfoundland Shelf and thus is exposed to both hunting and oiling. Our results clarify the relationships between hunting in Greenland and Canada and growth of specific breeding populations, and thus have major implications for harvest management of guillemots in the Northwest Atlantic.


Understanding Alaskan Inuit food security and conservation through use

Carolina Behe, Inuit Circumpolar Council; Raychelle Daniel, The Pew Charitable Trusts

Conservation in Alaskan Inuit homelands often comes from the perspective of conservation that benefits the environment first, and ultimately the people that live there. We propose an alternate conservation paradigm that includes Inuit not only as a part of the environment within the ecosystem; but also as part of the solution to managing these Arctic ecosystems from within. Inuit knowledge and management practices are both a part of Alaskan Inuit food security, and would help move overall management of Arctic systems to better include whole knowledge, and improve science. Inuit have followed traditional management practices, applying a food security lens, which has sustained the people and the environment for time immemorial. These practices demonstrate a strong value system focused on conservation through use, based on an Inuit food security lens. Practices are built on principles such as “do not take more than what is needed.” These words impart multiple facets of understanding that include people take only what they can process, store and consume within their family or community. They also include lessons that include stewardship and sustainable practices; for example, always leaving enough for the continued respect for the ecosystem that it is a part of. During traditional bowhead whaling a cease-fire is called once the number of whales that can be processed within a given time is reached. This example demonstrates that the phrase “don’t take more than what is needed” is not based on arbitrary numbers and is aligned with conservation, respect, and socio-ecological beliefs. This management practice is used in the collection of all food sources and must consider not only how many people are required and available for the processing and storing of food but also the environmental conditions required for these steps. This presentation will provide an overview of an Inuit led project that defines Alaskan Inuit food security and provides a conceptual framework of food security, while proposing a paradigm shift in conservation measures that understand and support conservation through use and the inclusion of Inuit and Indigenous Knowledge in management.


Reconciliating conservation and sustainable harvest

Geneviève Desportes, NAMMCO

Population of particularly walrus, but also narwhals and belugas, were heavily exploited late in the 19th century and during the first half of the 20th century. Catches in the Arctic, as in other areas, were not well documented, but resulted by the mid 20th century in depleted populations in nearly all areas, some down to the 10th of their abundance at the turn of the century, and still declining. Geographical ranges, especially that of walruses, had shrunk substantially. Following advice from NAMMCO, Greenland introduced quotas for walrus, narwhal and beluga in the period 2004-2008. Today increasing stocks of these three species off Greenland are clear result examples of sound and science-based management which can reverse negative tendencies in population trends – in turns allowing the precautious increase of removal quotas. NAMMCO continue to regularly assess the stocks of these species and provide management advice. The cooperation of Greenland and Canada in the management of narwhal and beluga, through the Joint Commission of Narwhal and Beluga (JCNB) and NAMMCO is in line with the ABA policy recommendation of developing pan-Arctic conservation and management plans for shared species that are harvested. The continuity of Arctic marine mammal stocks as provisioning ecosystem services is not solely dependent on the sound management of whaling and sealing activities. The impacts of other human activities must be integrated in the management advice process, which, in the framework of a changing climate, needs to integrate a predictive dimension. It must attempt to foresee how all human activities and their impacts may develop over time and affect both directly and indirectly marine mammal populations.

A participatory approach to reducing the poaching of Bewick’s swans in the Russian Arctic

J. L Newth1,2, A. Belousova3, P. Glazov4, S. Uvarov5, S. Kanyukov5, G. Mikhailova6,7, A. Chistiakov6, I. Semenov6, R.A. McDonald2, A. Nuno2, S. Bearhop2, S. Dench1 R. L. Cromie1, K. A Wood1 & E. C. Rees1. 1 Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, GL2 7BT, UK 2 Centre for Ecology and Conservation/ Environment and Sustainability Institute, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus, TR10 9EZ, UK 3 All-Russian Research Institute for Environmental Protection, 117628, Russia, Moscow, 36 km MCAD, dmvl. 1, str. 4. 4 Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, 119017, Staromonetniy pereulok 29, Moscow, Russia 5 WWF, Nar’Yan-Mar, Russia

The Russian Arctic hosts the entire population of the endangered Northwest European Bewick’s swan every summer. The species is legally protected from hunting under legislation throughout its migratory range, yet illegal shooting remains a threat. International co-operation has culminated in efforts to reduce their hunting, an action identified as a high priority in the Bewick’s Swan Single Species Action Plan adopted by the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement. In the Russian Arctic, multi-disciplinary and participatory approaches have been used to evidence and understand the issue and plan activities to reduce the poaching of Bewick’s swans and other protected waterbirds. Motivations for hunting, individual hunting behaviour, attitudes towards swans and activities to reduce illegal hunting have been identified through dialogue and surveys with local communities in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug and Arkhangelsk Oblast. In a survey of 236 hunters, 91% believed that it was important to maintain Bewick’s swans in the arctic landscape for future generations. Perceived motivations for hunting Bewick’s swans included a lack of enforcement of protective laws, food, sport, their arrival in the spring coinciding with the open hunting season, a perception that numbers are increasing/too high, a perception that they have a negative impact on other breeding waterbirds and a lack of awareness that they are protected (18% of hunters were unaware of their legal protection). Only 14% (n=232) of hunters could visually distinguish Bewick’s swans from two other swan species that reside in the region, both of which are afforded weaker legal protections. Additionally, concerns were raised about the perceived negative impact of hunting tourism on protected species. A range of stakeholders have contributed to the planning of activities to reduce poaching including conservation organisations, indigenous associations, regional government bodies, tourism agencies, educators and local museums. Plans include guides which will help hunters to identify protected and huntable species, educational resources so that young people can learn about migratory waterbirds and wetlands, a travelling swan art exhibition which will be taken to remote villages and an international hunter exchange programme so that knowledge and experiences of best hunting practices can be shared. A regional working group will be established to take forward these activities. This work falls within key recommendations outlined in the ABA, namely, addressing individual stressors on biodiversity and improving knowledge and public awareness. It fulfils the following Congress goal: to advise CAFF on national and international implementation of the ABA policy recommendations.


Salmon and salmon-dependent people in Alaska: Highlights of an interdisciplinary research initiative

Peter Westley, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Alaska is exceptional in that the complex factors that comprise the wild salmon system are currently intact. In contrast to Pacific and Atlantic salmon across most of their ranges, salmon and their ecosystems of Alaska appear to be sustainable, largely due to a long tradition of community stewardship and a science-based management system. However, the sustainability of the Alaska salmon system also rests on the long-term maintenance of the connection of people to salmon, which is currently threatened by issues of permit access, greying of the fleets, and other social shifts. Additionally, the biophysical system of Alaska in not exceptional in challenges to the species’ long-term viability given the uncertainty of rapidly warming climates, ocean changes, global market forces, habitat alteration and disconnection, selective fishing, declining research and management budgets and rapidly growing human populations and development. In this presentation I highlight results of The State of Alaska Salmon and People (SASAP) project, an innovative knowledge synthesis initiative designed to assess the current status of the Alaska Salmon System, empower stakeholders by providing ready access to information, and ultimately to shape the future of management of Alaska’s wild salmon. The SASAP project specifically sought to: • integrate knowledge across disciplines and agencies, between cultures and users, and across regions and by doing so provide a holistic view of the complex and dynamic salmon-people system; and • create new institutional capacity for interdisciplinary salmon knowledge generation and to establish a shared and credible baseline for integrated knowledge that can be built on over time. The SASAP process was supported by a novel data science and synthesis partnership between the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara and more than 100 knowledge experts, including scientists and educators from academic, community, tribal and indigenous partners, and government organizations throughout Alaska and the United States.

How aboriginal hunting in the Northeast of the Russian Arctic influences migratory waterbird population?

Konstantin Klokov, Saint-Petersburg State University; Evgeny Syroechkovskiy, Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology

 The assessment of the hunt impact on migratory bird populations is necessary for the development of effective conservation strategy and sustainable use of resources. The results of the survey conducted in northern Yakutia and Chukotka (Syroechkovski and Klokov, 2010) showed a very high importance of the traditional hunting for the indigenous population in Russian Arctic. Birds, especially, geese, ducks and eiders still remain an important source of food for indigenous families in hundreds of villages on the North and East of Russia. Birds are perceived by indigenous families first of all as foodstuff. Waterfowl is harvested mainly in the spring time. The amount of harvested birds depends mainly on the geographical location of villages with regard to migratory ways of geese, ducks and eiders. In several indigenous villages situated on the migratory ways average hunting bag is about 100 birds for year. Eggs gathering is important only for a few indigenous communities. Compared with hunting in the countries of South-East Asia hunting on migratory birds in the North and East of Russia has only a small negative impact on the populations of threatened species. However, due to the absence of the monitoring and the lack of accurate information this influence cannot be completely excluded. Thus, significant number of Emperor geese are harvested in some areas in Chukotka as well as Whimbrel and other big waders including Godwith and Far Eastern Curlew are harvested in Kamchatka region. The hunting management in the Russian Arctic North is inefficient. The control is weak. The local population often do not respect to the hunting rules. The official Hunting Regulations do not correspond to local conditions. Virtually, all hunting in the North is made in violation of the existing rules. The government hunting regulation has been actually replaced by traditional approach. Results of the study of hunting management experience in Russia show that the motivation of the local population to hunt depend mainly on the economic conditions. Enforcement methods of management are not enough effective in Arctic area with sparse population. A dialogue with hunters on the base of "comanagement" approach is difficult for two main reasons: the lack of trust of the majority of hunters to the governing bodies and the absence of local organization of hunters. To implement the recommendations for migratory bird conservation there is a need for economic survey and social diagnostics to determine different resource user groups interests and motivation.


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