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 October 30, 2009
Canada Signs Polar Bear Protection Pact

 Canada and Greenland have signed an agreement to protect the shared populations of polar bears - one of the iconic symbols of the northern environment.  

KANGERLUUSUAQ, Greenland - Canada’s Environment Minister, Jim Prentice joined with Nunavut’s Minister of the Environment, Daniel Shewchuk and Greenland’s Minister of Fisheries, Hunting and Agriculture, Ane Hansen to sign the  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) creating a Canada - Greenland joint commission to oversee a combined total allowable harvest, and a fair division of the shared harvest.

The joint commission, which includes representatives from Canadian Inuit organizations Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the Qikiqtaaluk Wildlife Board, would also be used to coordinate science, traditional knowledge, management and outreach activities.

The Government of Canada is committed to working collaboratively to protect one of Canada’s true natural - and national - symbols. An iconic animal, whose rare and rugged beauty stands as a stark reminder that Canada is one of the world’s true Nordic nations. The Memorandum of Understanding will help ensure conservation and sustainable management of Kane Basin and Baffin Bay polar bear populations into the future," said Minister Prentice.

"Conservation and sustainable management of polar bears is very important for Greenland, for cultural, social and economic reasons. That is why I am so proud to be part of the signing of the first MOU on polar bears between Greenland, Canada and Nunavut, said Ane Hansen Greenland Minister for Fisheries, Hunting & Agriculture.

"We find it important that co-management agreements are developed between nations sharing polar bear population to ensure that combined harvests does not exceed sustainable levels. It is also important that traditional knowledge is used together with science in this process. Greenland is looking forward to continue its effort to implement the co-management agreement with Canada / Nunavut",

Nunavut Environment Minister, Daniel Shewchuk noted that coordinating efforts with respect to research methodologies and the exchange of multiple sources of knowledge will help make possible better management decisions for polar bear populations.

Earlier this year, Minister Prentice hosted a National Roundtable on polar bears with the territories, the provinces, wildlife management boards and others who have a management and conservation role to protect Canada’s approximately 15,500 Polar Bears. At the meeting, the need to form an agreement on managing shared polar bear subpopulations was identified as a high priority.

Of Canada’s 13 polar bear subpopulations, the Kane Basin and Baffin Bay subpopulations are shared exclusively between Nunavut and Greenland.

Earlier this month the United States government designated an area larger than the Yukon as "critical habitat" in an effort to save polar bears from extinction. Stretching along Alaska’s northern and western coasts and including both onshore den areas and offshore pack ice, the habitat totals more than 500,000 square kilometres and is the largest area ever set aside to help save an endangered species.

For More Information: Environment Canada