August 4, 2017: Behind NAMMCO – Daniel Pike, Secretariat
The People behind NAMMCO
Another face behind NAMMCO, between 1999 and 2007 (and since as consultant). A person very much involved and engaged in the successful work of NAMMCO and particularly in the work of the Scientific Committee and its development — Daniel Pike (Canada) from the Secretariat.
When I first became involved with NAMMCO, I had been living and working in what is now Nunavut in Arctic Canada for about 15 years, working in fisheries and wildlife management. I first became aware of NAMMCO when I attended the “Sealing: The Future” conference in St Johns in 1997. Besides the brilliant name of the conference, I was very impressed with the general attitude of the organization and particularly with Kate Sanderson, who was then the General Secretary. Here were people who talked about conservation as I had grown to understand it: not as hands-off preservation, but rather as wise use within sustainable limits. It made me realize that we were not alone in Nunavut. There were other northern peoples who understood the importance of hunting and fishing in places where other opportunities were limited.
I think what most impressed me about NAMMCO was the commitment to good science. I worked primarily with the Scientific Committee, both as their secretary and, I think, as a valued member. I found NAMMCO to be fully committed to the principles of conservation, and willing to be forthright when there was a conservation issue that needed addressing. This was brought home to me particularly working with beluga, narwhal and walrus off West Greenland. It was obvious that these stocks were under pressure and harvest reductions were required. This was a very difficult issue because harvest restrictions would have a direct effect on people’s lives, but our recommendations were accepted, quotas were introduced and the outlook for these stocks is now much improved.
From a personal standpoint, I can say that I learned a great deal working for NAMMCO. I was allowed the time and opportunity to improve my skills in several areas, and particularly in survey design, conduct and abundance estimation. A highlight of my time with NAMMCO was when the Icelandic members entrusted me to lead the aerial component of the NASS-2001 survey. Although I had some aerial survey experience, I must admit that I had never actually seen a minke whale, the target species of the survey, until I got in that plane! This was a formative experience for me and has led to so many interesting projects since then. I will always be grateful for their confidence in me.
I trust that NAMMCO will continue to take a science-led approach to the conservation and management of marine resources. The Arctic and sub-Arctic marine ecosystem is undergoing rapid change due to climate change and its effects on the ocean environment, creating new challenges for northern peoples. My hope for NAMMCO is that it will continue to be a genuine and true voice for conservation in the region. So best wishes to NAMMCO, and especially my friends on the Scientific Committee, on this milestone anniversary. Keep at it, you are doing important work. I’m happy to have played a part in your history.