Tuesday, 05 March 2013 09:35

In what appendix does the polar bear fit?

Written by 

Eisbär 1996-07-23

Polar bear on ice flow in Wager Bay (Ukkusiksalik National Park, Nunavut, Canada)

Source: Ansgar Walk

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. From March 3-14 the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES will be held in Bangkok, Thailand. Here the United States have proposed to up-list polar bears from appendix I to II again. The proposal to up-list the polar bear marks the second time the U.S. government has proposed to up-list polar bears. The first move from the U.S. Government to up-list the polar bears was defeated in 2010.

Appendix I lists species that are threatened with extinction. This would mean a ban on all international trade; only in exceptional circumstances can a permit be given.

Appendix II lists species not immediately threatened with extinction but may become so if trade is not closely controlled.

The main reason the United States once again have proposed the up-listing of polar bears is the loss of sea ice, which is vital for polar bears to hunt and breed. Therefore “a careful approach to the conservation of the polar bear is needed to ensure that primarily commercial trade does not compound the threat posed to the species by the loss of habitat,” and a transfer of the polar bears to Appendix I is a “keystone of this careful approach,”

Besides the United States, the Russian federation also support the up-listing together with the European Parliament who passed a resolution, which calls for an international trade ban for polar bears and an up-listing at the meeting.

Read the proposal here

On the other hand Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, Greenlands government, the Nunavut Government and the CITES Secretariat, have all said they are against an up-listing of the polar bear.

CITES secretariat said an Appendix I listing “would not appear to be a measure proportionate to the anticipated risk to the species at this time.”

Also many of the world’s leading wildlife conservation organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund, Polar Bears International and Traffic are against an up-listing.

On a side note, the designation of polar bears as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act, due to loss of habitat, was upheld by a Washington, D.C., appellate court, which ruled against a challenge from the state of Alaska and allied industry interests.











Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat
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