Intervention Presented by WAFWA at the CITES 16th Conference of the Parties in Bangkok, Thailand
Bob Broscheid, March 7, 2013
Thank You Madame Chair-
On behalf of the 4 Regional Associations that comprise the 50 State Fish and Wildlife Agencies in the United States, we appreciate the opportunity to provide this Intervention in opposition of the proposal to list the Polar Bear in Appendix I.
Other interveners and position papers have expressed concerns that the Polar Bear does not meet the criteria for an Appendix I listing, and we wholeheartedly agree. However, I will focus my comments on the broader implications of the proposal to polar bear conservation, CITES and the worldwide conservation of fish and wildlife species.
The climate change rationale for this listing establishes a new and unfamiliar precedent in the CITES process. Numerous species worldwide will likely be subject to the same fate since all have been identified as being threatened by climate change. Similar to the Polar Bear, many of these species have not, and likely will not, see projected population declines for decades. Those threats, if ever realized, will remain in the distant future and may or may not be exacerbated by trade.
Meanwhile, present-day managers and range states will face significant and unnecessary restrictions under Appendix I, further complicating the implementation of timely and necessary management actions to ensure these populations remain in their biological and sociological carrying capacities.
An Appendix I listing for polar bear will also have immediate and devastating impacts to the social, spiritual and economic well-being of those First Nations and their livelihoods. This, in turn, will jeopardize polar bear conservation in the future.
The First Nation communities are committed to their shared responsibility to sustainably manage polar bear populations. As a result of this successful cooperation, sound scientific, harvest and trade data is available to inform CITES and other important management decisions. This shared responsibility has resulted in a long-term commitment to sustainably manage the Polar Bear. The involvement and active participation of local communities in Polar bear management has generated significant value and a strong desire to not only maintain but increase polar bear populations where prudent. It is this approach that supports a model of wildlife conservation that creates significant societal value for the polar bear. That value leads to long-term sustainability of polar bear and other wildlife populations as well as social and cultural livelihoods by which they mutually depend. It is this approach to conservation that CITES was founded upon and has been successfully working under for the past 40 years. It is the integrity of the CITES process that is endangered if this proposal is accepted.
Madame Chair, the consequences of accepting this proposal are far more reaching than that of the polar bear. The real tragedy will be realized by those of us who promote the founding principles of CITES and are committed to the long-term conservation and sustainable use of our natural resources. Thank you, Madame Chair.