Today I attended a Polar Bear Symposium in my hometown. The Willem Barentsz Polar Institute and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF the Netherlands) organised a symposium on Polar Bears. Next week political leaders of all Arctic nations will meet in Moscow to make a new Polar Bear treaty. The first edition of this treaty, now 40 years old, was a great success. The main threat to Polar Bears, human hunting, was stopped almost completely (apart from some well-regulated subsistence hunting by native people). Since the start of the treaty in 1973 Polar Bear numbers have risen a lot. But now a new threat has risen, global climate change and its effect on the Arctic. I’m a bit sceptical on the effect of a new Polar Bear treaty on climate change, however it might be a good first step for the politicians to confirm that climate change is the main cause of the changes we see in the Arctic.
The symposium itself was really nice with talks on Polar Bear biology, the Polar Bear treaty, conflicts between Polar Bears and Humans, a presentation of a research expedition from over 40 years ago and some recent research. And, like always, the social aspect was important as well. I met with many people I know from the Arctic, colleague guides, researchers and passengers onboard of ships I’d worked on. Always really nice to catch up with people you don’t see that often.