We’re on guard against polar bear up-list attempt: Nunavut minister
“The attempts to up-list polar bears are unwarranted”
Johnny Mike, the Nunavut environment minister, said Oct. 26 in Nunavut’s legislative assembly that a fourth attempt to restrict the sale of polar bear parts could occur in 2016, but if it does, the Government of Nunavut will be ready.
In a minister’s statement, Mike said he would use a recent decision by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, or CITES, which protects the right of hunters to sell legally-hunted polar bear parts, as ammunition against any attempt to revisit the issue.
CITES, at its 28th animal committee meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, from Aug 30 to Sept. 3, ruled the global trade in polar bear parts does not pose a threat to the health of the species.
The decision was made in consultation with more than 200 scientific experts, representing more than 50 countries.
“It is our intent to use the decision by the CITES animal committee to successfully oppose a possible third attempt in 2016,” Mike said.
The United States, a member of CITES, tried in 2010 and 2013 to up-list polar bears into an Appendix I classification — where they would be deemed in immediate danger of extinction.
An Appendix I listing would come with an automatic ban on all international trade of polar bear parts.
“The attempts to up-list polar bears are unwarranted and would have a negative impact on the lives of harvesters, who rely on the economic value of a polar bear hide to supplement their harvest activities,” Mike said.
Lobbying for this issue is nothing new for Nunavut’s minister of environment.
In June, Mike traveled to a conference in West Virginia, along with federal environment minister Leona Aglukkaq and other Inuit representatives, to lobby against the uplisting of polar bears.
Mike does not appear to be letting his guard down, despite the apparent victory.
“To be clear, this recent decision made by CITES animal committee does not preclude a third attempt at uplisting polar bears in 2016, but it does give strong support to our position that trade is not harmful to polar bears,” he said.
The 66th meeting of the CITES standing committee will be held in January.
In a recent move, the five nations with polar bear populations — Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Russia, Norway and the U.S. — signed a non-binding agreement in September to share information collected on polar bear populations to better monitor the species.