Agreement between the Inuvialuit and the Inupiat on Polar Bear Management in the Southern Beaufort Sea

Filename: 1988-PolarBearInuvialuit-Inupiat.EN.txt
Source: Dr Nikolas Sellheim, University of Helsinki and University of Cambridge

Management Agreement for Polar Bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea between the Inuvialuit Game Council of Inuvik, NVT, Canada and The North Slope Borough Fish and Game Management Committee of Barrow, Alaska, USA

Source: Dr Nikolas Sellheim, University of Helsinki and University of Cambridge

The Inuvialuit of Canada and the Inupiat of the United States

NOTING that both groups have traditionally harvested a portion of polar bears from the same population in the southern Beaufort Sea; and,

NOTING that the continued hunting of polar bears is essential to maintain the dietary, cultural and economic base of the groups; and,

NOTING that the maintenance of a sustained harvest for traditional users in perpetuity requires that the number of polar bears taken annually not exceed the product1v1ty of the population; and,

NOTING that the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears makes provision for cooperation in the research and management of shared populations; and,

NOTING that nothing in this Agreement shall be read to abrogate the responsibilities of Federal, Provincial or State authorities under existing or future statutes; and,

NOTING that the Inuvialuit and the Inupiat will have a long-term fundamental influence on the maintenance and use of this resource and that the efforts of other parties will also be required to ensure effective conservation;




a) The species considered in this Agreement is the polar bear (Ursus Maritimus)

b) The area covered by this Agreement is the southern Beaufort Sea from approximately Baillie Islands, Canada, in the east to Icy cape, USA in the vest.

c) The people covered by this Agreement are the Inuvialuit of Canada and the Inupiat of the North Slope of Alaska.

d) The settlements whose hunting practices may be affected by this Agreement are Barrow, Nuiqsut, Wainvright, Atqasuk and kaktovik in the United States and Inuvik, Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk and Paulatuk in Canada.

e) Sustained yield is a level of taking which does not exceed recruitment and is consistent with population ranges determined to be optimal and sustainable.

f) The Joint Commission shall consist of two (2) representatives designated by each of the Inuvialuit Game council and the North Slope Borough Fish and Game Management Committee. The Technical Advisory Committee shall be appointed by the Joint Commission.



a) To maintain a healthy viable population of polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea in perpetuity.

b) To provide the maximum amount of protection to female polar bears.

c) To minimize detrimental effects of human activities, especially industrial activities, on important polar bear habitat.

d) To manage polar bears on a sustained yield basis in accordance with all the best information available.

e) To encourage the collection of adequate technical information on a timely basis to facilitate management decisions.

f) To further refine the eastern and western boundaries of the population of polar bears. ·

g) To encourage the wise use of polar bear products and by-products within the context of management on a sustained yield basis.

h) To facilitate the exchange of polar bear meat and products between traditional users in Alaska and Canada (Enabling legislation required).

i) To legalize the sale of polar bear hides and by-products by the traditional Alaskan users in Alaska (Enabling legislation required).

j) To facilitate the export of polar bear hides and other polar bear products from the Western Arctic of Canada into the USA (Enabling legislation required).

k) To consider at a later date a limited legalized Alaskan sport harvest of polar bears which emphasizes benefits to local hunters of the area (Enabling legislation required for Federal management).



To conserve this population of polar bears, the Inuvialuit and the Inupiat have agreed as follows:

a) All bears in dens or constructing dens are protected.

b) Family groups made up of females and cubs-of-the-year or yearlings are protected. The birthdate of cubs is fixed at January 1 and cubs less than five feet (152 cm.) in straight line body length are protected.

c) The hunting season shall extend from December 1 to May 31 in Canada and from September 1 to May 31 in Alaska.

d) The annual sustainable harvest shall be determined by the Technical Advisory Committee in consultation with the Joint Commission and shall be divided between Canada and Alaska according to annual review of scientific evidence. Allocation agreements shall be negotiated and ratified prior to September 1 annually. Bach signatory to this Agreement shall determine for itself the distribution of the harvest within its jurisdiction.

e) These regulations do not preclude either party from unilaterally introducing additional conservation practices within their own jurisdictions.

f) Any readjustment of the boundaries pursuant to the above may necessitate a readjustment of user allocations under the management plan.

g) The use of aircraft or large motorized vessels for the purpose of taking polar bears shall be prohibited.

h) Each jurisdiction shall prohibit the exportation from, the importation and delivery into, and traffic within, its territory of polar bears or any part or product thereof taken in violation of this Agreement.

i) Polar bears in villages during closed seasons should be deterred from the area. ·

j) Polar bears threatening human safety or property may be taken at any time of the year and may be counted against the village allocation as ascribed by the Joint Commission.


Co11ection of Data and Sharing of Information

a) The following data will be recorded for each bear killed: sex, date and location of kill, and hunter's name.

b) The following shall be collected from each bear killed: an undamaged

, post-canine tooth, ear tags or lip tattoos if the tags are missing, other specimens as agreed to by the hunters of either jurisdiction for additional studies.

c) A summary of all harvest information from each jurisdiction shall be exchanged annually.

d) The number of collars deployed for research purposes shall be limited to the minimum number necessary to provide accurate population Information.

Duration of Agreement


a) This Agreement shall enter into force when it has been signed by the representatives of both parties.

b) This Agreement shall remain in force unless either Contracting Party requests it be terminated.

c) Amendments to the Agreement may be proposed by either signatory and accepted or rejected by mutual agreement after consultation with the membership of the Inuvialuit Game Council and the North Slope Borough Fish and Game Management Committee.

The Alaskan signatories of this document have no authority, to bind and do not purport to b1nd the North slope Borough to any agreement which would otherwise be in violation of the exclusive federal treaty power established by the United States Constitution, but are acting solely as representatives of the local traditional user group of the polar bear resource in furthering the consultation, management, and Information exchange goals of the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears.

SIGNED on this the 29th day of January, 1988 in the Town of Inuvik, Northwest Territories.

On behalf of the North Slope Inupiat

Nolan Solomon


North Slope Borough Fish and Game Management Committee.

Benjamin Naveak


Department of Wildlife Management

On behalf of the Inuvialuit Game Council

Alex Aviugana


Inuvialuit Game Council

Andy Carpenter


Wildlife Management Advisory Council (N.W.T.)