North Slope communities are having some success with fall whaling.
Johnnie Aiken is the executive director of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission in Barrow. Aiken says Barrow crews have landed two whales so far this fall.
“The crews that are out boating have not been seeing as many whales as they used to this time of the year. What we heard was the whales were still hanging around the Prudhoe bay area off Milne point,” Aiken said.
But the villages of Kaktovik and Nuiqsuit are having better luck.
“Kaktovik landed all their whales, all three of them. Also Nuiqsut also landed three whales so those two villages have been very successful,” Aiken said.
AEWC has 11 member villages that share 72 to 75 strikes each year between spring and fall whaling season. Nuiqsuit can take up to four whales, but Aiken says the three they landed this year were large, all three averaged 50 feet, which translates into around 50 tons each. Nuiqsuit gave their fourth strike back to AEWC for another village to use.
Aiken says the weather has been rough, making it difficult for Barrow crews to get out. He says the lack of fall ice makes it more dangerous.
“We have not seen any ice in the fall for 10 years. In the past we used to have ice, it was good to have ice because it kept the seas calm. Now that we don’t have ice, it’s been pretty rough out there,” Aiken said.
Aiken says Wainwright and Point Lay whalers have been out but have not had success so far this fall.
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