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Hunters in Canadian Arctic charged with taking too many belugas

Representatives of hunters' and trappers' organizations in Nunavik, a predominantly Inuit region in the north of the Canadian province of Quebec, promise they'll defend hunters who were apprehended by federal fisheries officers.

Seven hunters are now under investigation for allegedly harvesting more than the region's quota of 315 belugas per year. Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation it's still investigating the incident.

Pauloosie Novalinga is the chair of the Anguvigak hunters organization. The group wrapped up its annual general meeting Tuesday in Kuujjuaraapik, Quebec, and Novalinga said the hunters have been charged under the Fisheries Act. They have the organization's full support.

"We will defend them to the best of our ability... We want them to know that," Novalinga said.

Novalinga said the fisheries department did not communicate to hunters in the region that the beluga season closed Nov. 3. Four days later, a hunt took place in Quaqtaq, Quebec. Muktuk and meat were confiscated and later distributed to the residents of Quaqtaq.

Novalinga said the three-year beluga management plan expires next year. He said the hunters and trappers group will ask for an increase in the quota.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations