Recommendations from the 3rd meeting of the PBSG in Morges, Switzerland 1972

Res#1-1972: Protection of polar bears on the high seas

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Recognizing that the polar bear is a significant resource of the Arctic region, the management of which has both national and international implications;

Knowing that the polar bear is of vital importance to the economic, social and cultural well-being of local peoples in the Arctic region;

Being aware that present polar bear numbers and population densities in most parts of the Arctic region are below the optimum level and the species is under threat of disappearance in some areas;

Being convinced that the polar bear requires additional protection if the resource is to be conserved and populations permitted to build up to optimum levels;

Considering that effective management of this resource can be achieved by a coordinated international effort;

Recommends to IUCN that it strongly urge all nations concerned:

   1. To take appropriate action to prohibit, from 1973 onwards, hunting of polar bears on the high seas including the area of the circumpolar pack ice, except where such hunting is carried out as a continuation of the traditional rights of local people who depend on this resource; and
   2. To protect, within their own territories, polar bear denning and feeding areas and to manage their own separate polar bear populations in consultation with other nations sharing these populations.

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Res#2-1972: Tagging programmes with particular reference to the North Atlantic and Chukchi and Beaufort Seas

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Having reviewed the results of research concerned with elucidating the regional and circumpolar nature of the polar bears;

Recognizing the progress made, particularly in characterizing regional populations, estimating the numbers of bears in local areas, locating some areas of importance to denning, and assessing the types and incidence of disease and parasites;

Being aware however that, despite these advances in the understanding of polar bear populations and ecology, several problems of extreme importance remain unresolved;

Realizing in particular that fundamental knowledge about polar bear stocks in the Chukchi Sea and the Beaufort Sea, which are of common interest to Canada, the USSR and the USA, is insufficient to provide a basis for effective conservation action;

Realizing also that the available information about polar bears ranging in the Barents Sea and the Greenland Sea, which are of common interest to Denmark, Norway and the USSR, is inadequate especially in regard to numbers, movements and place of origin;

Being convinced also that action must be taken to locate important denning areas, both on land and sea ice, to which these stocks of bears are related;

Recognizing that whilst elements of such investigations are of principal importance to one country and may accordingly be handled on a national basis, other elements are of international scope and demand international cooperation for resolution;

Recommends to IUCN that it request all nations concerned;

  1. To expand significantly scientific programmes for studying polar bear populations probably shared by two or more countries, particularly tagging and survey programmes in the Barents Sea and the Greenland Sea (Denmark, Norway and the USSR), and the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas (Canada, USSR and the USA); and;
  2. To study denning areas and denning habits of polar bears in the North Atlantic (Denmark, Norway and the USSR) and on the coastal areas of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas (Canada, the USSR and the USA).

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Res#3-1972: Programmes in Denmark and Norway

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Recognizing the vital importance of the research of the polar bear being undertaken by Denmark and Norway in Greenland and in Svalbard to the development of effective management and conservation measures;

Knowing that these two countries may share polar bear populations with Canada and the USSR and that more information on these populations is required, especially data on migration, productivity and total numbers of bears;

Realizing the urgency of securing data on these important topics because of the rapid increase in development and exploitation of the Danish and Norwegian Arctic and the resulting impact on polar bear conservation and management;

Considering the already demonstrated advantages of a coordinated international effort in achieving better management and conservation of the polar bear throughout the Arctic;

Considering also the views expressed at the current meeting on the importance to Canada, the USSR and the USA of the Danish and Norwegian work in resolving conservation problems in the Arctic common to all five nations;

Recommends to the IUCN that it strongly urges Denmark and Norway to take all possible action to continue and increase polar bear research, particularly that related to management and conservation, within their Arctic territories.

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Res#4-1972: Seal protection and research

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Recognizing that the ringed seal is the main food item of polar bears throughout their circumpolar range, and therefore that ringed seals productivity and availability is of direct importance to polar bear welfare;

Recognizing also that the protection of polar bear feeding grounds is as important to polar bear management as is the protection and preservation of discrete polar bear populations;

Realizing that the available data on ringed seal distribution and productivity are inadequate;

Recommends to IUCN that it request member nations to initiate and support studies and action programmes concerning the management and protection of ringed seals and the areas in which they congregate.

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Res#5-1972: Convention and protocol on polar bears

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Being convinced that an international convention will be required to provide a formal framework for cooperation between Arctic nations in regard to conservation of polar bears;

Welcoming the first draft of a Convention on Conservation of Polar Bears prepared by IUCN;

Having now enunciated general principles affecting the conservation of polar bears which should form the basis of such a convention;

Realizing the delays inevitably involved in concluding a convention;

Believing that international action is needed urgently to implement specific recommendations of the Group on management of polar bears;

Recommends to IUCN;

  1. That IUCN prepare a new draft of the proposed Convention based on the principles affecting polar bear conservation enunciated by the Group and circulate it to the Group for comment;
  2. That IUCN prepare a draft protocol based on Resolution 1 of the 3rd meeting of the Group and circulate it to the Group for comment;
  3. That IUCN, after amending the draft protocol as required in the light of comments from the Group, invite all nations concerned to adhere formally to the protocol.

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Res#6-1972: Meeting at Banff

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Being informed of the various topics affecting the ecology and management of natural resources in the Arctic that will be discussed at the IUCN 11th General Assembly and associated technical meetings;

Considering the importance also of early follow-up on several aspects of international coordination of polar bear research and management arising from the current meeting of the Group;

Recommend to IUCN that it consider convening a special meeting of the Group at Banff on 8 September 1972, immediately before the other IUCN meetings at Banff.

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Res#7-1972: Chairmanship of next meeting of the Group

The IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group,

Recognizing that the Group has made considerable progress in connection with research, management and conservation of the polar bear;

Realizing that any multi-national committee labors under serious political and linguistic restrictions;

Being convinced that the Chairmanship of any such committee is an essential element in contributing to the success of that committee;

Commends the IUCN for inviting Dr. John Tener to chair the Group's three sessions;

Recommends to IUCN that Dr. Tener be invited to chair the Group's next session.

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