International Porcupine Caribou Board Meets
The International Porcupine Caribou Board met for the first time in more than a decade to discuss the common interests in conservation of this barren-ground caribou herd. This landmark meeting took place September 28-29 in Whitehorse, Yukon and was hosted by Environment Canada.
The Board was originally created through the Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on the Conservation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd, which was signed in 1987,and first met in 1989.The Board was active for 12 years, holding meetings in user communities in Canada and Alaska.
A primary objective of the Board is to conserve the trans-boundary Porcupine Caribou Herd through international cooperation and collaboration.
The Agreement makes specific reference to the manners in which the two countries will collaborate, such as ensuring "...that the Porcupine Caribou Herd, its habitat and the interests of users of Porcupine Caribou are given effective consideration in evaluating proposed activities within the range of the Herd." and "Where an activity in one country is determined to be likely to cause significant long-term adverse impact on the Porcupine Caribou Herd or its habitat, the other Party will be notified and given an opportunity to consult prior to final decision."
While the advice and recommendations of the Board are not binding on the Parties, by virtue of the Agreement, the parties will consider the advice and respond to the recommendations of the Board.
Geoffrey L. Haskett, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Alaska Regional Director, welcomed the new meeting, saying, "I was honored to help resurrect the International Porcupine Caribou Board after more than a decade of inactivity. I share the optimism of my American and Canadian colleagues that our actions will ensure a prosperous future for this extraordinary international wildlife resource. I was extremely pleased that our technology enabled us to include our Alaska Native members who couldn't attend in person."
Alaska Department of Fish and Game Deputy Commissioner Craig L. Fleener reflected Haskett's view. "We had a great first meeting and are all looking forward to reinvigorating the board in order to collaborate on conservation measures that will help us manage this internationally important subsistence resource," Fleener said.
The Board is comprised of four members from Canada and four from the United States of America. Canadian membership includes the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada (for the Government of Canada), Yukon Department of Environment, Northwest Territories Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Porcupine Caribou Management Board within Canada. The United States of America is represented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (for the Government of the United States of America), the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (for the State of Alaska), the Inupiat (Edward Rexford) and the Alaska Gwich'in (Edward Frank) Villages.
The Board reviewed their roles and responsibilities, and their past links to the Porcupine Caribou Technical Committee. The Board also reviewed the terms of the last work plan, and set out next steps for working together to ensure continued cooperation between both countries.
The Board plans to meet next in Fairbanks, Alaska in March of 2012.
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