Catch statistics for belugas in West Greenland 1862 to 1999
Information and statistics including trade statistics on catches of white whales or belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) in West Greenland since 1862 are presented. The period before 1952 was dominated by large catches south of 66o N that peaked with 1,380 reported kills in 1922. Catch levels in the past five decades are evaluated on the basis of official catch statistics, trade in mattak (whale skin), sampling of jaws and reports from local residents and other observers. Options are given for corrections of catch statistics based upon auxiliary statistics on trade of mattak, catches in previous decades for areas without reporting and on likely levels of loss rates in different hunting operations. The fractions of the reported catches that are caused by ice entrapments of whales are estimated. During 1954-1999 total reported catches ranged from 216 to 1,874 and they peaked around 1970. Correcting for underreporting and killed-but-lost whales increases the catch reports by 42% on average for 1954-1998. If the whales killed in ice entrapments are removed then the corrected catch estimate is on average 28% larger than the reported catches.
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