Publication: « Addressing epistemic injustices in species at risk assessments through improved credibility and legitimacy: case study of narwhal management in Ittoqqortoormiit »

Tanguy Sandré, Jean-Paul Vanderlinden, Jeanne-Marie Gherardi, Zhiwei Zhu, Fern Wickson. Addressing epistemic injustices in species at risk assessments through improved credibility and legitimacy: case study of narwhal management in Ittoqqortoormiit. NAMMCO Scientific Publications, 2024, 13, ⟨10.7557/3.7371⟩⟨hal-04613729⟩

The regulation of seal and whale hunting in Kalaallit Nunaat(Greenland)belongs tothe Naalakkersuisut(National Government), which isnotablyinformedbythe work of the Scientific Committee (SC) of the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO). Since 2004, quotas were set in Kalaallit Nunaatto regulate hunting practices andpromote ecologically sustainable harvesting. In South East Greenland,the SC's recommendations for the closure of the narwhal(Monodon monocerosorqialuar)hunt since 2019 has metboth national disagreement and local resistance due to a desire to preserve thelong-standingrelation with narwhals organised aroundhunting, which is strongly intertwined within place-based communities’ experiences. The situation requires further attention to deploy an informed dialogue in the light of both available literature and local narratives capturing knowledge and values which are underrepresented within scientific discussions, as are social sciences. Grounded in repetitive and long-standing research fieldworkin Ittoqqortoormiit, and extensive qualitative data collectionfrom 2019 to 2023, the article shows that community members express strong attachment and concern towards narwhal hunting together with the social, economic and cultural importance of mattak(narwhal skin).Local narratives also suggest that the resistance against limitations onnarwhal hunting is not to be understood only as a conservatism that aims to preserve traditional hunting practices or about sustaining economic incomes for hunters, but in a significant way as protest against epistemic injustices, resulting from a feeling of being systematically unheard, distrusted and uninvolved in decision-making processes. Together with the expression of concern and attachmentfor narwhal hunting, the tensions between scientific knowledge and local value and knowledge were reiterated while shared concern for the preservation of the species is affirmed. We show thatlegitimacy and credibilityof the scientific evidence and species management are contested. Ultimately,we ascertainthe situation of epistemic injustices and raise theneed to shift towards decolonial practices to open the possibility for the emergence ofa fair and respectful dialogue that would supportnarwhal preservation, through securing hunters' material living conditions, community food security, and ensuring consideration and respect is given to individual and collective immaterial dimensions associated with narwhal.

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