IUCN/Polar Bear Specialist Group 15th meeting

North Atlantic House, CopenhagenNorth Atlantic House in Copenhagen, the venue for the PBSGs 15th meetingImage: Dag Vongraven PBSG meeting CopenhagenPBSG 2009 members and invited specialistsImage: Morten Ekker

The 15th meeting of the Polar Bear Specialist Group was arranged at the Greenland representation in Copenhagen, at the North Atlantic House, from June 29 to July 3. A record number of invited specialists attended the meeting, arranged in a warm and sunny Copenhagen.

Dr. Andrew Derocher, University of Alberta, the chairman of the group since 2005, chaired the meeting. In addition to the status reviews for all populations given by their respective jurisdictions, there were presentations on the status of management and research from all the five nations.

The setpoint for the meeting was a bit different than it has been in a while, since it was the first PBSG meeting in almost two decades that was arranged with a preceding Meeting of the Parties (MoP) to the 1973 Agreement. A MoP was arranged in Tromso in March, which means that PBSG's acting role as a manager of matters pertaining to the Agreement has changed and probably will remain different than it has been as long as the Parties to the Agreement continue to meet regularly. As one of the outcomes of the MoP in Tromso, the PBSG was asked to be a scientific adviser to the future MoPs, and to give input to a polar bear action plan. At the Copenhagen meeting, PBSG members agreed to give the polar bear nations independent scientific advise and to give input to an action plan as required.

Outgoing and ingoing chair PBSG 2009Outgoing chair, Dr. Andrew Derocher (left) passes on the chairmanship to Dr. Erik W. Born (right)Image: Morten Ekker Chairman PBSGNew PBSG chairman Dr. Erik W. Born, Greenland Institute of Natural ResourcesImage: Morten Ekker

As usual there were presentations on recent scientific knowledge and methods, where the invited specialists gave valuable input. In addition to the normal discussions around the status of all the subpopulations, there were also elaborated exchange of information and opinions about threat factors other than climate warming, e.g. disturbance from tourism, over-harvest, poaching and an expected general increase in ship traffic in the Arctic.

After serving since the previous meeting in Seattle in 2005, outgoing chairman, Dr. Andrew Derocher, passed the chairmanship to Dr. Erik Born from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources. Dr. Born attended his first PBSG meeting as a member in Oslo in 1981, and he has done extensive work on polar bears all over Greenland in his career up till now.

Output from meeting: