European NGOs Show Urgent Action Necessary From European Ministers Via International Commercial Trade Ban of Polar Bear Parts

10 June, 2016

At the Batumi Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” a group of more than 30 NGOs from around the world showed that urgent action is necessary from the European Environmental Ministers to ban the international commercial trade of all polar bears parts. As an important intermediate measure, the NGOs are calling on each Minister to support a full moratorium on the international trade of all commercial polar bear parts and a full moratorium on all polar bear trophy hunting driving the commercial trade. The Ministers were also each invited  to join the NGOs  message to Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and USA to support the process to designate polar bears taxa protected via CITES Appendix 1[1]

As polar bears are increasingly threatened with climate change, toxic pollution, habitat encroachment and trophy hunting, the science is clear supporting the polar bear’s IUCN Red Listing. Global estimates indicate approximately 800 polar bears are killed each year, primarily by trophy hunters  (more than half of these polar bear kills result in international trade of polar bear parts). Additionally, illegal polar bear hunts in Russia result in an estimated further 70-300 polar bear kills each year. Increasing polar bear protection via CITES Appendix I designation must not be further politicized, but fully supported by following the science-based ‘precautionary principle’ approach.  There is insufficient credible updated data on the state of polar bear subpopulations to support any commercial trade in polar bear parts or the trophy hunting driving this commercial trade.  Polar bears cannot afford continued political delays in place of the science that fully supports a moratorium on the international commercial trade in polar bear parts and all polar bear trophy hunting driving the trade.

The European Ministers have an important opportunity to act now to support polar bear protection. All stakeholders (including NGOs) need to participate in the process agreeing how credible polar bear population assessment protocols will be developed. While these population assessments are agreed and then while waiting for credible comprehensive information for all polar bear subpopulations to be made publicly available for assessment, a full moratorium in the international trade of all polar bear parts and all trophy hunting must be agreed now.


[1] CITES convention Appendix 1 would significantly reduce the international commercial, and commercial-related, trade of polar bear skins and derivatives.  Polar bears current CITES designation under Appendix 2 provides insufficient oversight and protection.


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