Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission (AEWC)

AEWC Bowhead Quota

"The mission of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission is to safeguard the bowhead whale and its habitat and to support the whaling activities and culture of its member communities."

Cooperative Agreement between the NOAA and the AEWC (1984) (2008) (2016) The AEWC represents the Iñupiat and Yupik whaling communities at the IWC annual meetings.

Whaling Provision: Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling Quotas Petition by the Department of Commerce, NOAA, in the Federal Register, Vol. 73, No. 81, April 25, 2008. This document outlines the quota assigned to the AEWC for bowhead whales for 2008 to 2012.

NSB-DWM provides scientific support to the AEWC, including:

AEWC Bowhead Quota

Bowhead Harvest Quota based upon:

  1. the nutritional and cultural needs of Alaskan Eskimos and Eskimo and Chukchi people of Chukotka, and
  2. estimates of the size and rate of growth of the bowhead whale population.

AEWC Bowhead Block Quota for 2013-2018

AEWC's Block Quota for 2013-2017 was reviewed at the 2012 IWC meeting in Panama City, Panama, and was renewed. Since the IWC decided to change their Commission meetings to every other year instead of annually, the quota was approved for the years 2013 through 2018, allowing Alaskan and Chukotkan whalers to land up to 336 whales over the next six years. This provides for the same annual limits and carryovers as have been in place for the last 15 years, included in the 2008-2012 quota, which is outlined below. The AEWC and NSB released this statement to the press on July 3, 2012. Here is a copy of the statement made at the 2012 IWC Commission meetings by AEWC Chairman, George Noongwook of Savoonga.

  • The 6-year harvest quota is 336 whales landed, or 402 possible strikes, shared between the 11 whaling communities that are members of the AEWC.
  • Cannot exceed 67 strikes in any one year, although 15 unused strikes can be transferred from previous years.
  • Harvest is approximately 0.1-0.5% of population.
  • Cannot harvest cows with calves.

AEWC Bowhead Block Quota for 2008-2012

  • The 5-year harvest quota is 280 whales landed or 335 possible strikes.
  • Cannot exceed 67 strikes in any one year, although 15 unused strikes can be transferred from previous years.
  • Harvest is approximately 0.1-0.5% of population.
  • Cannot harvest cows with calves.

Quota reviewed annually by IWC Scientific Committee and NOAA-NMFS AEWC is allowed to hunt under the IWC's Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling provision. Allocation by the AEWC of the IWC block quota for 2008 to 2012 per village:

Barrow, 22 (increased to 25 in 2014)
Gambell, 8
Kaktovik, 3
Kivalina, 4
Little Diomede, 2
Nuiqsut, 4
Point Hope, 10
Point Lay, 1 (increased to 2 in 2014)
Savoonga, 8
Wainwright, 7
Wales, 2

Huntington, H.P. 1992. The Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission and other cooperative marine mammal management organizations in northern Alaska. Polar Record, 28(165):119-126.

Conflict Avoidance Agreeement (CAA)

The Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission works annually with industry partners to develop a Conflict Avoidance Agreement (CAA).   This agreement implements mitigation measures that allow industry to conduct their work while maintaining the availability of marine mammals for subsistence hunters.  One important aspect of the CAA are time and area closures.  Those closures allow whale hunters to provide for their communities while industry takes a break.  After the bowhead quota is filled or a village completes their hunt, industry can resume work.  Lefevre (2013) provides a history and summary of the CAA process.

Lefevre, J.S. 2013. A pioneering effort in the design of process and law supporting integrated Arctic Ocean management. Environmental Law Reporter, 43:10893-10908.

AEWC meeting in Barrow 2012
Mayor Charlotte Brower addresses the AEWC (Executive Director, Johnny Aiken, and Commissioners seated on stage) at meeting in February 2012 in Barrow, Alaska.