July 21, 2017: Behind NAMMCO – Amalie Jessen, Greenland

The people behind NAMMCO:

The word goes first to the present Chair of the Council of NAMMCO, the only person who has participated continuously in the work of the Council since 1992. Certainly, a very active, energetic and engaged person, a smiling face of NAMMCO, a strong woman from the high North — Amalie Jessen from Greenland.

I am engaged in NAMMCO’s work both as Head of delegation for Greenland, and just recently as Chair for the Council. As a Greenlander, marine mammals are a natural part of my life and culture – in all aspects including as a very typical food resource. They are part of my soul and my body, I like to see them in the fjords, but I also like to eat them. I also find sealskins to be beautiful and very ecological and appropriate clothing and accessories. I want to conserve seals, so future generations can also admire and consume them. Using them, in all forms, must be done in a sustainable and responsible way, as for all other marine resources. Therefore, my thorough engagement in NAMMCO, an organization promoting sustainability and responsibility, has been both my work and a pleasure.

I have been engaged in NAMMCO from the very beginning and was also engaged in NAC[1], the front-runner to NAMMCO. I remember the hope and enthusiasm the signature of the Agreement sparked, the hope that hunting activities could finally been managed in a constructive way, respecting the right of the communities, but also achieving sustainability and responsibility.

I have been active in Council – and was pleased to be its first chairwoman, as well as in various committees, conferences and workshops and have given input at all levels. I was the first Chair of the Committee on Hunting Methods in 1992-1998 and have been active in it since. In NAMMCO we have had a pragmatic approach, always seeking the best results both for the hunters’ safety and to insure the most effective killing of the marine mammals.

In Greenland, I have been leading the implementation of the various NAMMCO scientific recommendations, leading to quotas for narwhal, beluga and walrus – which has resulted in positive abundance trends for narwhal, beluga and walrus stocks off Greenland.

I have also coordinated the overhaul of all harpoon cannons in Greenland, in cooperation with experts from Norway, the Greenland Fishermen and Hunters Association (KNAPK) and individual hunters. The project included the production of equipment to overhaul the harpoon cannons and the production of more efficient flensing knives.

I also work with the implementation of user / hunter knowledge into decision-making processes when it comes to management of all kind of wildlife resources. This topic is still challenging, as there is an unstable effort from each community in using TEK, and some uncertainty on how to collect user knowledge in relation to the management of wildlife.

I believe regional management to be the best way of managing people and marine mammals, in close cooperation with communities, hunters and their families.

The progress accomplished in the framework of NAMMCO’s 25 years in terms of science, management procedures, killing methods and regulation of hunting activities is huge. I wish that NAMMCO continues to consolidate and develop its foundation, and advance the scientific knowledge of the North Atlantic marine ecosystem and the understanding of the role of marine mammals in this system, so present and coming challenges are met in the right way.


[1] North Atlantic Committee (NAC) for Cooperation on Research on Marine Mammals

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