Opportunity lost to help polar bears

What a disappointment - today is a day that I suspect many CITES Parties will look back on in shame. The world had a chance to take immediate action that would have saved hundreds of polar bears each year, but chose instead to support unnecessary trade which is taking its toll on polar bears along with climate change, pollution, and poaching. Another case of politics and short-sighted economic gain winning out over science and precautionary conservation.

Many countries in the Middle East and Africa spoke out passionately in support of saving the polar bear, however Canada, the European Union, Iceland and several other European nations vocally opposed the proposal. The United States proposal which was defeated would have provided polar bears with stronger international protections -- in particular banning commerical trade in polar bears and their derivitives.

I was listening to Dr Sylvia Earle speak last night at a reception on shark conservatin here in Qatar and she said that she can understand why people didn't act to save the Dodo - they didn't understand what they were doing. But we do understand - we can see the declines in populations - we can see the polar ice disappearing and yet we still seem prepared to sacrifice species for small short term profits.

I will look back on this day and know that myself and my IFAW colleagues did all we could do to help save the polar bear, but unfortunately I know that others will not be able to say the same.

Jeff Flocken, IFAW DC Director

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