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Alien Organisms and trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

International trade of polar bears and polar bear products

Report no:

Ordered: 07.10.2019

Publishing: 01.06.2020


The Norwegian Scientific Commitee for food and environment (VKM) shall assess the effects of international trade of polar bears and polar bear products.

Currently, Canada is the only country that allows commercial trade of locally hunted and captured polar bears and the products of these, thus this assessment will be restricted to assessing effects on Canadian polar bear populations.

VKMs assessment will be based on criteria from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The Norwegian Environment Agency commissioned the assessment.


CITES regulates trade in endangered species. Polar bears are included in CITES Appendix II (Norwegian CITES list B). Appendix II includes species where trade must be closely monitored to ensure species' survival. Importing polar bear products in Norway requires obtaining an export permit from Canadian CITES authorities and an import permit from the Norwegian Environment Agency (Norwegian CITES authorities). In addition, possession of polar bear products in Norway requires a CITES certificate of ownership.

There is an increasing trend of importation of polar bears to Norway from Canada. At the same time, there are signs of negative population trends for several Canadian polar bear populations.

VKM's assessment will form the scientific basis for processing CITES import permits of polar bear products. In addition, the assessment could be used to determine whether the polar bear should be uplisted to list A (the strictest protection from international trade) under the Norwegian CITES legislation.

Non-Detriment Findings

VKM is a scientific authority for CITES in Norway, and prepares risk assessments, called Non-Detriment Findings (NDF), on behalf of the Norwegian Environment Agency. The risk assessments are prepared in accordance with methodology published by CITES and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). An NDF includes the species' biological characteristics, and its national and global status including details about prevalence, population trends and threats, management, control and monitoring of trade, and conservation measures.

The Scientific Panel for Alien Organisms and trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is responsible for the assessment, scheduled to be published June 1, 2020.


The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment

T: 21 62 28 00
@: vkm@vkm.no

P.O. Box 222 Skøyen
0213 Oslo

Webmaster: Tanya S. Kristiansen
Responsible editor: Ingrid M. Høie