Ringed Seal Workshop in Iqaluit an important first step
A workshop on ringed seals was held in Iqaluit, Nunavut, in early March, the first time such a workshop was organized. Ringed seals are undoubtedly the most important marine mammals hunted for subsistence in Nunavut. The purpose of the workshop was to inform members of Inuit communities about the research that is currently done on this species and to listen to their questions, comments and concerns. Research areas that were reviewed included movement patterns of ringed seals, environmental contaminants, food safety, and seal health. Seal health was clearly one of the dominant concerns identified by Inuit attending the workshop. Observations of seals with hairless patches of skin were often mentioned, although it is not clear whether increased reporting of such seals reflects an actual increase in their occurrence or increased awareness of seal health issues on the part of the people, the latter perhaps enhanced by their awareness of the presence of environmental contaminants in the North. The need for more efficient and prompter communication between researchers and Inuit communities, in both directions, was also identified by the attendees. A gradual improvement in internet connections in the North may help to achieve this. Pierre-Yves Daoust (Atlantic region) represented the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) and had a good opportunity to describe the functions of this Centre and to point out that practical documents on seal health are available on the CWHC website, such as the Safety Manual for Harvesters of Fish and Wildlife in Nunavut.