(March 18, 2010 – Doha, Qatar) Representatives from Nunavut Tunngavik and the Regional Wildlife Organizations are attending the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species’ (CITES) 15th Committee of the Parties meeting in Doha, Qatar.
An American proposal to change the listing of polar bear from appendix II to appendix 1 of CITES was voted on this morning in Doha by delegate countries. The proposal would greatly restrict the international trade of polar bears.
The proposal was defeated with 48 in favour, 62 opposed and 11 abstentions. The final decision on the American proposal will be made next week, March 25, during the CITES’ plenary session. NTI representatives anticipate the decision to reject the proposal will be accepted.
The American proposal is based on scientific predictions of habitat loss and reduced populations of polar bears due to climate change. Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia are the range states of polar bears. All four countries opposed the proposal. The proposal was also opposed by the European Union, and a majority of African countries.
NTI and RWO representatives spent the past week in Doha lobbying delegates and explaining Inuit concerns with the proposal. Today’s victory is a result of efforts by NTI, RWOs, Regional Inuit Associations, Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, and the Government of Nunavut.