Oceana’s Commitment to the Arctic Council
The discussions, assessments, and recommendations of the Arctic Council play an important role in supporting the subsistence way of life while maintaining the health, resilience, and biodiversity of Arctic ecosystems. Both of these critical functions are goals of Oceana’s Arctic work. With a continued commitment to our Arctic Campaign, we would like to more effectively contribute our marine science and policy expertise to the Arctic Council by engaging in working group projects.
Oceana supports the objectives of the Arctic Council and respects the sovereignty of Arctic states and the extensive legal framework that governs them. We have a deep and abiding respect for the values, interests, cultures, and traditions of Arctic indigenous peoples and recognize that the subsistence way of life is an integral part of healthy Arctic ecosystems.
Effective marine conservation often starts at the community level. Once established within a community, policies can effectively be adapted to suit all levels of governance including state, regional, national, and international systems. Oceana staff regularly visit Arctic communities, listen to concerns, and share information in order to collaborate with communities to better maintain the health, resilience, and biodiversity of Arctic ecosystems and the subsistence way of life. We are currently working on mapping projects with two regional Inuit organizations in Alaska. Oceana recognizes local and traditional knowledge (LTK) as a way of knowing that is equally valid to “western” science.
Mapping and Science
Oceana is working with Arctic community-based organizations to identify Important Ecological Areas in the U.S. This work may be of particular interest to the Arctic Council for three reasons. First, it provides an example and methodology for combining LTK and “western” science with maps. Second, Oceana has developed a transparent and repeatable method for identifying important and sensitive marine areas. Third, it serves as a useful tool to help decision makers incorporate environmental considerations into Arctic planning. Oceana also has scientific expertise in marine ecology, oil spill response and impacts, climate change, ocean acidification, and fisheries.
Oceana is working to help evaluate the risks of Arctic shipping. Our staff participates on the advisory panel of the Aleutian Islands Risk Assessment, which was established to address the impacts of vessel traffic on the great circle trade route. Oceana staff contributed to the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA). We are currently working on AMSA implementation with PAME and on the Polar Code at the International Maritime Organization.
Arctic Policy Expertise
Oceana has extensive policy expertise in fisheries management, ecosystem-based management, oil and gas activities, and Arctic governance.