A flexible quota system is used in Nunavut and is a system for administering the portion of the total population maximum sustainable yield that has been allocated to a given community. First, the sustainable yield of males and females for a given population must be identified. This determines the number of bears that can be harvested from a subpopulation in a given year without negatively impacting the overall population size. Next, the total sustainable yield must be divided among the communities that share a given subpopulation. Then the annual base allocation for each community is established and the flexible quota system is used to adjust the quota as required to keep the kill within sustainable limits. For example, if a quota is exceeded in one year, the number of over-harvested bears is subtracted from the next year’s base allocation of tags (i.e. quota is adjusted downwards). Conversely, if a community under-harvests in a harvest season then these bears accumulate as credits to be used at a later time, following particular application and approval procedures. Each community receives its share of the maximum sustainable harvest of males and females as an annual baseline allocation.
The flexible quota calculation takes into account:
- Any “credits” from previous years when not all the bears were harvested,
- The total number of males killed or removed from the population, and
- The total number of females killed or removed from the population.
In Canada, there is high compliance with the quota system and quotas are reviewed and adjusted as needed as new information about polar bear subpopulations becomes available, with the expressed goal of ensuring sustainable harvest. Management agreements for some subpopulations in Canada state that, as required, a quota will be reduced or a moratorium will be put in place in order to protect the species.