Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq hopes an international review of Canada's trade in polar bear parts will confirm the current trade is sustainable.

The 180-country Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species agreed last week in Mexico to conduct a lengthy study into the global trade of polar bears.

Animal welfare groups are opposed to the commercial trade, which saw 344 polar bear skins or bodies exported in 2011, although the species' most serious threat relates to climate change and melting polar sea ice.

Canada's northernmost ranges are home to an estimated 16,000 polar bears of the 20,000-25,000 global population. 

Following recommendations from a committee of wildlife experts in 2011, Environment Canada designated polar bears a species of Special Concern under the Species at Risk Act.

The trade of polar bear parts is regulated under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.