The Porcupine Caribou Management Board is a joint management board established under the Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement signed in 1985. The Board consists of eight members representing six signatories (Government of Canada, Government of Yukon, Government of the Northwest Territories, Inuvialuit Game Council, Gwich'in Tribal Council, and the Council of Yukon First Nations). A Chair and a Secretariat are contracted to provide support to the Board. The Board meets at least twice per year, often in the Porcupine Caribou user communities, and holds conference calls between scheduled meetings. Workshops are held throughout the year as needed.
The main duties of the Board are to:
- Co-operatively manage the Porcupine Caribou Herd and its habitat in Canada to ensure continuance of the herd for subsistence use by native users while recognizing that other users may also share the harvest.
- Maintain communication with the native users of the Porcupine Caribou.
- Review technical and scientific information relevant to the management of the Porcupine Caribou Herd and its habitat and make recommendations on its adequacy.
- Encourage native users and other harvesters of Porcupine Caribou to participate in the management of the herd.
- Maintain a list of eligible native users for each native user community and keep up-to-date information on the sub-allocation of the native user allocation among communities.
The Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement was signed on October 26, 1985. The Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on the Conservation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd was signed in 1987. Copies of these agreements can be downloaded in our Reference desk section.
What is a co-management board?
Co-management is a relatively new management model designed to share power and decision-making among interested organizations. It stresses co-operation, compromise and consensus building. Co-management boards often work well in managing natural resources that involve interests in several jurisdictions, such as international, inter-provincial, local governments and First Nation governments.
The Porcupine Caribou Management Board was established by the Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement, which was signed in 1985, making it one of the first co-management boards established. It was designed to recognize the many interests in the herd: the Government of Canada, the Government of Yukon, Government of Northwest Territories as well as the First Nations. With all these groups having their own regulatory interest in different parts of the range, it makes good sense to bring all interested parties together to make studies, plans and recommendations for the entire herd, rather than different rules for each of the small fragments of the range for each jurisdictions.
There is one important interest not represented in the Porcupine Caribou Management Agreement – the United States of America. Although the Porcupine Caribou Herd crosses the international border and migrates into the United States, this Board only has the authority to make regulatory recommendations within the Canadian portion of the herd's range. There is an International Porcupine Caribou Board, established by the Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on the Conservation of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. Two members of the PCMB sit on this International Board. The International Bard has been inactive, however, since the U.S. has let the memberships for its representatives lapse. Despite the inactivity of the International Board, it should be noted that the PCMB is in good communication with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as other American organizations to share information relevant to the herd and pool resources where possible to complete projects of mutual interest.
The comprehensive membership of the Board pools the collective knowledge and experience of the member organizations as well as ensures there is consistency in efforts to protect the herd. With members representing all the interested groups, a co-management board ensures each group's needs are considered. This last point is especially important, noting that the Board makes recommendations on matters when the user groups' interests conflict.
The sponsoring organizations appoint the person they believe will best represent their interests on the Board. The board members consult with their sponsoring organizations as well as the members of their communities about the caribou. The board members debate the issues and iron out decisions during the meetings. When decisions are made, they return to their sponsoring organizations and communities to describe and explain the Board's decisions. Sometimes, because Board decisions affect communities differently, it is difficult for Board members to justify decisions to their own communities. This is where the co-operative aspect of co-management is emphasized. Board members emphasize that because the herd's population is declining, it is imperative that the Board do what it can to protect the herd and allow it to grow – so that the future generations can continue to use the herd. As the Board continues to meet, it continues to search for new ways to help improve the health and population of the herd – and reduce its own imposition on the herd's users.
The Board's recommendations are not binding, but they are taken very seriously. After all, the recommendations come from the collective position of all the Board's member organizations through their appointed representatives, which gives them a great deal of weight. Compromise is often required, but all members are loyal first to the herd, because protecting the herd best protects their own organization's interests in the long term. In addition, all sponsoring organizations recognize that occasional compromise is preferable to separate management regimes for each of the jurisdictions in the herd. Co-operation, then, is the key to co-management.
As with some other co-management boards, the PCMB recognizes scientific research as well as traditional knowledge. This ensures the Board is guided by the best, most comprehensive information available from all its members as well as outside organizations.
Composition of the PCMB
The signatories of the Agreement were:
- Government of Canada, as represented by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
- Government of Yukon, as represented by the Minister of Renewable Resources
- Government of Northwest Territories, as represented by the Minister of Renewable Resources
- Council for Yukon Indians
- Inuvialuit Game Council
- Dene Nation and the Métis Association of the Northwest Territories
The original composition of the Board consisted of representatives of the signatories in this manner:
- Government of Canada (1 member)
- Government of Yukon (2 members)
- Council for Yukon Indians (2 members to represent the native users of Old Crow, Dawson and Mayo)
- Government of Northwest Territories (1 member)
- Dene/Métis (1 to represent the Dene/Métis native users of Aklavik, Inuvik, Fort McPherson and Arctic River
- Inuvialuit Game Council to represent Inuvialuit native users from Aklavik, Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.
Since 1985, the territorial governments and First Nation governments have restructured. All of the First Nations have become self-governing. The Agreement has not been amended, but now the following changes have occurred:
- Council for Yukon Indians was renamed Council for Yukon First Nations (CYFN)
- CYFN, which has two seats for three First Nations, has appointed a member for Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (Old Crow) and First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dün (Mayo)
- The Government of Yukon has informally offered one of its seats on the board to the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in First Nation so that the third native user group has representation
- The Dene/Métis is represented by the Gwich'in Tribal Council
There are discussions underway between the signatories to amend the Agreement so that it properly reflects the new self-government structures and the interested organizations. In the interim, these voluntary changes to the membership exemplify the co-operative nature of this co-management board.