Land-Based Pollution in the Arctic Ocean: Canadian Actions in a Regional and Global Context
Keywords: Arctic, contaminants, land-based pollution, coastal zone, Arctic policies, Arctic Council
AbstractThe occurrence of high concentrations of anthropogenic contaminants in the Arctic environment has been a concern for many years. The present overview of the current threats of pollutants from atmospheric, oceanic, river, and local pathways uses results from recent national, pan-Arctic, and international reports to emphasize the need to address issues arising from climate change, particularly the effect of changing weather patterns on contaminant transportation via both waterways and the atmosphere. Regional and international actions over the past two decades attempting to manage pollutants in the Arctic environment from landbased sources have produced recommendations that focus primarily on increasing cooperation in research and monitoring activities, not only among the Arctic governments themselves, but also including the interests and resources of non-polar countries. Our Canadian perspective on the domestic and circumpolar context of the issue, with regard to mechanisms exerting immediate control on the spread of contaminants, describes national programs and policies that are important to the Canadian North and to the Arctic community as a whole. All levels of Canadian government, as well as foreign governments, have joined in working towards safeguarding the Arctic and other marine environments. Prioritization of concerns is an important approach to tackling the numerous current issues related to the spread of contaminants in the Arctic environment. The government needs to give increased priority to the North, and that action needs to be taken in partnership with local communities and pursued at the regional, national, and international levels.