WWF thanks Norway for 40 years of polar bear management, encourages action
Norway, along with Canada, Denmark, Russia and the United States, is a signatory to the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears. The Agreement was a concerted international action to protect polar bears and their habitat. Due in large part to the Agreement and efforts by the five polar bear range states, polar bears still roam much of their historic range and occur in relatively large numbers today. The range states renewed their commitments in 2013 ago at the International Forum on Polar Bear Conservation to help polar bears persist across their Arctic range. The Forum, held in Moscow, was sponsored by WWF.
The greatest threat to polar bears in 1973 was unregulated hunting. But today, polar bears face a far greater threat - loss of their sea ice habitat due to climate change.
"Now that the polar bear's future is again uncertain, Norway and the other nations will need toimplement new measures. These are actions Norway can take as part of its own national action plan for polar bears, as well as part of the action plan for further cooperation between the five polar countries", says WWF Arctic adviser Nils Harley Boisen.
Some of the recommended actions include:
- An updated joint survey of the polar bear population shared by Norway and Russia. The last survey was conducted in 2004 - since then, sea ice in the region has shrunk significantly, changing polar bear habitat. Funding for an updated survey was proposed in the Norwegian government's 2015 budget.
- Collecting information on conflict between polar bears and people, and sharing this information with other polar bear range states.
- Taking action to mitigate climate change through policies that restrict greenhouse gas emissions.
"We look forward to further constructive dialogue with the Ministry, and 40 more years of outstanding polar bear management", says Boisen.