Oil and gas activities pose significant threats to Arctic ecosystems and to the people who depend on them. Placing wells, pipelines and vessels in the remote Arctic creates a substantial risk of a catastrophic oil spill and there is no proven method to clean up an oil spill in the icy conditions often found in the Arctic.
Oceana is working to limit any offshore expansion of oil and gas activities in the Arctic unless or until a strategic plan is developed that ensures that such activities can be conducted and accidents controlled without adversely impacting ecosystems or the subsistence way of life.
We are calling on the federal government to stop and reassess current management practices for oil and gas activities in the Arctic, given the extraordinary changes already occurring in the Arctic due to climate change (link). This includes legal opposition to recent lease sales in the Chukchi Sea.
Large-scale industrial fishing has adversely affected much of the world's ocean ecosystems. The high Arctic has some of the last few ocean areas that are is still relatively pristine.
Yet large-scale industrial fisheries are burgeoning in the sub-Arctic seas. Already, there is evidence of northward migration of fish stocks and the fleets in these seas. Sea ice recession will open new fragile areas in the Arctic.
Oceana is working to stop the expansion of destructive bottom trawling, ban all fishing for forage species, the heart of the food web, in the Arctic, and ensure that any expansion of large-scale industrial fishing in the Arctic does not threaten the ecosystem or subsistence way of life. This includes national and international agreements to responsibly manage fishing in the Arctic.
Receding sea ice will open new shipping lanes across the Arctic, increasing the danger of a shipping accident or disastrous fuel spill in the far north. The remoteness and shifting ice of the Arctic not only make shipping incredibly challenging but also make any efforts to respond to shipping accidents equally daunting.
Increased Arctic shipping would bring about an increase in the amount of black carbon, CO2 and other pollution pumped directly into the Arctic, further stressing the ecosystem.
Oceana is working to ensure that before any vessel traffic expands into the Arctic Ocean, there are shipping standards in place that include effective contingency planning, enforced regulations and pre-positioning of spill response equipment, personnel and other capabilities in place. This must include adequate funding for such activities.
Pollution of the air, water and soil is a worldwide crisis that affects billions of people. Global air and water currents bring a dangerous amount of the world's pollutants to the Arctic.
As a result, the Arctic holds a disproportionate amount of the world's fouler poisons, including DDT and other persistent organic pollutants (POP) and contaminants such as mercury and lead. This has profound impacts on Arctic communities and the marine food web.
Oceana is committed to the development of robust international agreements to reduce and eliminate pollution and POPs around the globe. We also must continually research the ongoing accumulation of POPs in the Arctic and the effects on local peoples and animals.
There must be a substantial effort to educate the public, corporations and policymakers on the impacts of pollution on the Arctic and ways they can help to reduce pollution locally, nationally and internationally.