Ecosystem-Based Management in the Arctic Ocean: A Multi-Level Spatial Approach
Keywords: ecosystem approach, ecosystem-based management, integrated management, spatial scale, Arctic Ocean, Large Marine Ecosystems, Large Ocean Management Area, Beaufort Sea
AbstractEcosystem-based management (EBM) first requires the identification of spatial units capturing the ecosystem structure and functions. To this end, the Arctic Council has adopted the Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) framework. Ecosystem experts have identified 17 Arctic LMEs and mapped them for monitoring and assessment purposes. We provide an overview of their major ecological features. The ecosystem approach has also been developed nationally, with EBM initiatives undertaken as part of the national ocean policy frameworks and actions plans of the United States and Canada. A case study of the Beaufort Sea Large Ocean Management Area (LOMA) established for integrated ocean management purposes shows how Canada’s national spatial framework is being implemented at the subregional level. A comparison of this framework to the international LME that overlaps it in the Canadian waters of the Beaufort Sea demonstrates that both approaches are based on the same principles and criteria, and aim at the same goal: giving primary consideration to the marine ecosystem when managing activities. The two approaches are complementary because they are applied at different spatial and governance levels: regional (Arctic-wide) and subregional (in Canadian Arctic waters). A multi-level spatial framework, science-based management tools, and a governance structure are now available to managers in the Beaufort Sea pilot region; now managers must put in the effort needed to make EBM operational and address the complex environmental issues facing the Arctic.