Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut October 05, 2012 - 9:03 am

NTI will fight proposal to ban international polar bear trade

"The proposal threatens and undermines the polar bear management system that has been in place in Canada for the last 40 years"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
NTI will continue fighting a U.S. proposal that would kill the international trade of any polar bear products. (FILE PHOTO)
NTI will continue fighting a U.S. proposal that would kill the international trade of any polar bear products. (FILE PHOTO)

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. slammed the United States’ continuing support for a proposal to move polar bears from Appendix II to Appendix I under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species, in an Oct. 5 news release.

That came after representatives from NTI, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Inuvialuit Game Council, the Government of Nunavut and the federal government recently travelled to Washington D.C. to lobby against official U.S. support for up-listing polar bears and the Oct. 5 release by CITES of the proposals received from its member states.

This up-listing 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.

That proposal will be voted on less than six months from now, in March, 2013, in Thailand by 176 countries during the CITES Conference of the parties who signed on to the international agreement.

If the U.S. proposal to up-list polar bears passes, it could result in a ban on all international trade of polar bear trophies.

This is the second time the U.S. government has proposed to up-list polar bears. The first move was defeated in 2010.

NTI said Oct. 5 that’s because “the international community understood the trade of polar bears was not a threat to their survival and the proposal did not therefore meet the criteria for an Appendix I listing.”

Now NTI accuses the U.S, government of “using the threat of climate change to justify banning the international trade of polar bear parts, while utterly failing to do anything to reduce their own activities that make their country one of the world’s largest contributors to climate change.”

In an attempt to lobby U.S. officials last month, representatives from NTI, ITK, the Inuvialuit Game Council, the GN and the federal government travelled to Washington, D.C.” to educate American politicians on the reality and health of Canadian polar bear populations, and to demonstrate how Inuit harvesting practices are done in a sustainable and responsible manner.”

Despite meetings, which NTI described as “productive and positive,” the U.S. government “forged ahead with their campaign of misinformation and proposed to uplist the bears,” the news release stated.

“NTI does not support the proposal to list the polar bear under CITES Appendix I. The proposal threatens and undermines the polar bear management system that has been in place in Canada for the last 40 years,” said NTI vice-president James Eetoolook.

Eetoolook said NTI is working with the international community to ensure polar bears continue to be responsibly managed.

The GN also wrote a letter last June to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to say the GN opposed the up-listing of polar bears.

“The benefits to polar bears and their habitats would be minimal, while the negative impacts to Inuit and Nunavut’s adaptive co-management system would be significant,” David Akeeagok, Nunavut’s deputy environment minister, wrote.

The GN “stands in firm opposition to the proposal to up-list polar bears to Appendix I as a means to address the challenges associated with climate change,” he said.

Polar Bears International, a non-profit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear, also opposes the up-listing proposal, saying polar bears not “immediately endangered. 

“We are not aware that legal trade is an important threat to polar bear welfare at this time,” the organization notes on its website.

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