Russian whalers sign cooperative agreement with Alaska counterparts

Posted: Monday, March 27, 2000

BARROW (AP) -- Some Russian whalers have signed a cooperative agreement with their Alaska counterparts in efforts to help monitor bowhead migrations and improve the quality of their whaling fleet.

The agreement links Eskimo whalers from the Russian republic of Chukotka with the North Slope Borough, the state of Alaska and the federal government.

The groups will be looking more closely at bowhead migration routes near the Russian coast of the Bering and Chukchi seas and the Arctic Ocean.

The Chukotka delegation, which was in Barrow from March 2 to March 19, also requested humanitarian aid from the North Slope Borough. Most of that would go toward helping them in their whaling operation so they eventually can feed themselves without outside assistance, the group said.

''Every year we get from the North Slope Borough humanitarian aid, such as boat motors, binoculars and various tools, radios, fish nets and aluminum boats to assist us in whaling and subsistence,'' said Vladimir Etylin, vice president of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples.

The cooperative agreement should mean some much needed financial aid for the region, officials said.

A portion of the grant money will be made available to Chukotka whalers and observers, said Tom Albert with the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management.

''Our money goes a long ways over there,'' Albert told the Arctic Sounder. ''It is maybe worth 10 times what it is here as far as what it can buy for these people. Our hope is that this research money will be of great assistance to the Native people of Chukotka.''

The National Park Service also is making some money available to Chukotka for studies of that area's coastline.

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