Nunavut will fight against trade ban at CITES meeting
“We do not support this proposal, which has no rational basis”
Nunavut stands behind its sustainable management of polar bears, said James Arreak, Nunavut’s minister responsible for the Department of Environment, in the legislative assembly Feb. 28.
And to defend the management of polar bears in Nunavut and fight against international trade restrictions on polar bear trophies, Arreak plans to attend the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species meeting, which starts next week in Thailand.
“As I reported during our last sitting, the United States has once again submitted a proposal to CITES to have the polar bear up-listed from Appendix II to Appendix I,” Arreak said in a minister’s statement.
CITES Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction, but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled.
A move to up-list polar bears to CITES Appendix I would put polar bears in a category reserved for the world’s most immediately endangered species like tigers, gorillas, jaguars, rhinos and panda bears, which are threatened with extinction. Such an up-listing would ban all international trade in polar bear products.
The proposal will be considered and voted upon at the upcoming CITES conference of the parties next week.
“We do not support this proposal, which has no rational basis,” Arreak said.
Many of the world’s leading wildlife conservation organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund, Polar Bears International and Traffic, have joined the fight to oppose this proposal, Arreak said.
Those groups are in agreement that polar bears do not meet the necessary criteria for an Appendix I listing.
The CITES secretariat has also come out against the up-listing, Arreak told the legislative assembly.
“Our staff, Tagak Curley and I, and our colleagues in Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Environment Canada, the Nunatsiavut government, the Northwest Territories government, and the Inuvialuit Game Council have been working tirelessly to get the message out that Canada has an effective system for managing polar bears,” he said.
That management system is founded founded on principles of conservation, Arreak said.
It’s based on “rigorous scientific information and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and supports the sustainable harvest of polar bears, which is an important part of Inuit culture and Nunavut’s economy.”
Arreak said the Department of Environment remains committed to the position that polar bear management should be entrusted to the countries that have polar bears to manage.
He will travel to the CITES meeting next week to “ensure that our voices are heard and that the world understands that Nunavut manages its polar bears effectively and sustainably.”
A delegation from ITK planned to leave March 1 to Bangkok.