EU Sells Out Polar Bears at CITES

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Bangkok, Thailand

The EU delegation currently in Thailand at an international conference is actively derailing the polar bear’s best chance of survival. While the United States, supported by the Russian Federation, is hours away from securing vital protections to ban a significant threat to polar bears—international commercial trade—the EU just put forward an alternate proposal that would validate Canada’s current unsustainable hunting levels. This has happened despite public support around the world and in the EU for saving this species already under dire threat from climate change and trade in polar bear claws, teeth, and skins.

“This is a misguided and foolish attempt to save face,” said Sonja Van Tichelen, IFAW EU Regional Director. “The EU is trying desperately to push any position on polar bears that stop it from falling into irrelevancy - polar bears would then have to pay the ultimate cost.”

Canada is the only country in the world that still trades polar bear parts on the international market.  Fueled by scarcity of the species, prices have soared to record levels and the number of polar bear skins offered at just one auction house has increased by 375% in the last 5 years. At the same time hunting quotas are rising to meet demand. For example, in Canada’s Western Hudson Bay polar bear population, hunting quotas were tripled in 2011 against the advice of both the Polar Bear Specialist Group and the Canadian federal government—and then raised again in 2012.

“This alternative proposal from the EU is not a compromise. It’s surrender. It does nothing to reduce unsustainable legal trade in Canada,” said Nikita Ovsyanikov, a Russian scientist and member of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group. “In fact, it will stimulate more illegal trade and poaching of Russian polar bears.”

Post a comment

Press Contact

Adrian Hiel (Bangkok)
Contact mobile:
+66 (0) 82 974 2650
Contact email:

Experts

Azzedine Downes,Executive Vice President for International Operations, VP of P
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Isabel McCrea, Regional Director, Oceania
Regional Director, Oceania
Jeffrey Flocken, Regional Director, North America
Regional Director, North America
Kelvin Alie, Programme Director, Wildlife Trade
Programme Director, Wildlife Trade
Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Campaigner, Germany
Campaigner, Germany
Tania McCrea-Steele, Campaigns and Enforcement Manager, IFAW UK
Campaigns and Enforcement Manager, IFAW UK
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia