Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) Vice-President James Eetoolook applauded last week’s decision by a committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to not conduct a significant trade review of polar bears. The decision was made during a CITES meeting of the Animals Committee, which concluded that the current level of trade in polar bears is not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.
“This decision is in line with what Inuit have stated for years: that polar bear populations in Canada are healthy, and that international trade does not pose a risk to the species. Canada and Nunavut have a robust co-management system in place that carefully and sustainably manages the polar bear harvest while giving Inuit decision-making authority, as envisioned in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement,” said Eetoolook.
“The recent decision by the Animals Committee shows that a proposal to up-list polar bears under CITES would be unjustified. NTI will continue to oppose any proposal to up-list polar bears that has no foundation or basis in facts,” said Eetoolook.
The Animals Committee is made up of experts who represent each of the six geographical regions of CITES. It focuses on animals and considers the impact of trade and capacities to regulate and to conserve wildlife populations. The outcomes of this meeting, including this decision, will be considered during the upcoming Conference of the Parties CITES meeting in South Africa next year.
The United States recently indicated that it is likely to submit another proposal to up-list polar bears next year despite objections by Inuit.