A Case Study of Polar Bear Co-Management in Alaska
Kanayurak, Nicole Lynn
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The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) guides an institutional and structure and process for conservation and acknowledges Alaskan Natives’ subsistence on marine mammals. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Alaska Nanuuq Commission (ANC) co-management of polar bears is important for the conservation of the species and resilience of Alaska Native communities. Polar bears and Alaska Native food security are becoming increasingly vulnerable to change on many fronts. The purpose of this case study is to analyze how polar bear co-management is conducted and assess participation by the parties involved. Past assessments of polar bear co-management are analyzed and laws and regulations that apply to polar bear conservation are identified. This research interviewed key informants in polar bear conservation and co-management using a snowball approach and flexible open-ended structure. In 2015-2016 polar bear co-management meetings were directly observed. Documented reports from past polar co-management meetings and meetings on polar bear conservation were analyzed. This research recommends that (1) the institutional structure and process of polar bear conservation and co-management should ensure implementation of management and conservation measures that mirrors agreed upon plans. (2) Co-managers and participants may want to consider an approach to the process of conservation with an ecosystem based management framework in mind that includes people and strategies across scales and drivers that are in line with the institution structure given the need for built in flexibility. (3) The creation of a monitoring tool to monitor the progress of meeting agreed upon areas of improvement and recommendations.
- Marine affairs