Hunting and Management of Beluga Whales (<i>Delpinapterus leucas</i>) in Greenland: Changing Strategies to Cope with New National and Local Interests


  • Frank Sejersen



beluga whaling, division rules, Greenland, hunting rights, management, social change


Modernization, as well as the rapid socioeconomic and political changes that have taken place in Greenland in the 20th century, have altered the interests and concerns of Greenland's hunters. For example, these changes can be observed in the way hunters divide a catch of beluga whales. This article focuses specifically on how beluga hunters have negotiated new ways of dividing the catch in order to respond to new needs and demands. Today, Greenland is a heterogeneous society with a number of different socioeconomic groups: a situation that has intensified conflicts and strategies based on social compartmentalization. The chosen strategies lead us to question the emphasis that social scientists usually place on community integration. Apart from considering local problems, hunters must also relate to a number of elaborate Home Rule regulations that influence their rights and control their activity. The Home Rule government has strengthened the regulations because biologists and international/regional management commissions have concluded that the stock of beluga whales is substantially depleted. The regional management commission, NAMMCO, thus warns that the present harvests are several times the sustainable yield, and, if continued, will likely lead to stock extinction within 20 years. This new concern has made it even more necessary to redefine the rules for catch division and make them locally flexible. The Home Rule regulations are discussed and compared to local ways of dealing with new concerns and interests.