A U.S. conservation group is calling for trade sanctions against Canada because of an increased polar bear hunt quota in the Western Hudson Bay region.
In October, Nunavut’s environment minister increased the quota in the Arviat, Nunavut, area from eight to 21.
The Centre for Biological Diversity claims this increase violates the 1973 Convention on Polar Bears, which was signed by Canada and several other countries.
The group filed a formal request with the U.S. Department of the Interior Tuesday. It is calling for a ban on Canadian wildlife products.
In a release, the organization said the polar bear is on an extinction trajectory because of climate change.
"If we want to keep polar bears in the world, we have to dramatically cut greenhouse emissions and also reduce all the other threats to its survival, including overhunting," said Brendan Cummings with the centre.
The California-based group said Nunavut did not use the best scientific knowledge available in making its decision. The centre also said the hunt is not sustainable.
The government of Nunavut disagrees.
"There is a very sound management process here in Nunavut. Our minister submitted a request to Nunavut Wildlife Management Board to increase the harvest for this year and this year only,” said David Akeeagok from the Department of Environment.
Akeeagok said the results of the most recent aerial survey of the Western Hudson bay bear population will be made public in March. That will determine next year's quota.
In the meantime, the centre is asking the United States government to restrict the import of Canadian wildlife products. The U.S. Government can restrict trade of any wildlife product if it agrees the convention was violated.
Mickey Akavak, the chair of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, said the international agreement signed almost 40 years ago is outdated.
“I’m hoping that the Inuit and scientists alike can work together to get the best available combined information,” said Akavak.
Akeeagok also said the request makes no sense because it's based on just one sub-population of polar bears out of thirteen.
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