Circumpolar Action Plan for Polar Bears

When the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears was signed, the biggest threat facing polar bears was unregulated harvesting in some portions of the range.  As a result of successful management programs enacted by the Range States [Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States of America], harvesting is no longer the largest threat facing polar bears. Rather, the Range States now acknowledge a new threat facing the species: climate change. The Circumpolar Action Plan for Polar Bears (CAP), a range-wide conservation strategy for polar bear, outlines actions to be undertaken by the Range States, and their partners, to address the impacts of climate change and other identified threats on polar bear populations.

The CAP was drafted  by the Range States in order to coordinate management, research and monitoring of polar bears, and to ensure that the member states have similar goals for the conservation of the species. The CAP was approved by the Range States Heads of Delegation in September 2015. The CAP’s vision is to ensure the persistence of polar bears in the wild, and recognizes the importance of polar bears for ecological as well as cultural, economic and nutritional reasons for Northern Indigenous people. The implementation of the CAP will take place over a ten year timeframe (2015-2025). A high level 10-year action table summarizes the goals of the Range States over the life of the CAP.  More detailed two-year implementation schedules provide additional details regarding actions to be carried out over the short-term. Two-year implementation schedules are drafted on a biennial basis, for presentation and approval at the Range States Meeting of the Parties, and as such only the 2015-2017 action table is currently available.

Plan Vision:

To secure the long-term persistence of polar bears in the wild that represent the genetic, behavioural, life-history and ecological diversity of the species.

Plan Objectives:

  1. Minimize threats to polar bears and their habitat through adaptive management based on coordinated research and monitoring efforts, use of predictive models and interaction with interested or affected parties;
  2. Communicate to the public, policy makers, and legislators around the world the importance of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions to polar bear conservation;
  3. Ensure the preservation and protection of essential habitat for polar bears;
  4. Ensure responsible harvest management systems that will sustain polar bear subpopulations for future generations;
  5. Manage human-bear interactions to ensure human safety and to minimize polar bear injury or mortality;
  6. Ensure that international legal trade of polar bears is carried out according to conservation principles and that poaching and illegal trade are curtailed.
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