Arctic Marine Protection
Keywords:Marine pollution, Environmental protection, Fishing, Marine mammals, Natural resources, Socio-economic effects, Wildlife management, Climate change, Environmental impacts, Sustainable economic development, Whaling, Marine transportation, Natural area preservation, Public opinion, Environmental law, Land use, Chukchi Sea, Bering Sea, Karskoye More, Beloye More, Barents Sea, Greenland waters, Labrador waters, Beaufort Sea, Okhotsk, Sea of, Baffin Bay-Davis Strait, James Bay, Hudson Bay, Laptevykh More, Norwegian Sea
Abstract... For the purposes of this discussion, the Arctic marine environment consists of the Arctic Ocean and the seas, major bays, and straits that surround it. These are the Bering, Chukchi, East Siberian, Laptev, Kara, White, Barents, Greenland, Labrador, Beaufort, northern Okhotsk and Norwegian Seas; Baffin, Hudson, and James Bays; and Davis Strait. ... The main historical threat to the Arctic marine environment was exploitation of its wildlife. Today, there are additional pressures, including oil, gas, and mineral exploration and development, pollution, tourism, and climate change. ... The eastern Russian Arctic and parts of Alaska and northern Eurasia have become warmer, while Greenland has shown a cooling trend. Pack ice is melting earlier ..., the ice cover is thinning, salinity has decreased in some areas, and shifts in ocean currents and circulation patterns have affected the mix of Atlantic and Pacific water .... The halocline appears to be shrinking, and areas of high nutrient content are showing declines. ... To date, the most common way to protect the marine environment has been to regulate human activity or to set aside areas for special measures. ... As a group, Arctic countries report that they have ample and adequate national legislation to deal with marine protection. ... One of the most common and effective methods to manage the environment has been to establish protected areas. Most countries employ a management classification system, modelled after that developed by the World Conservation Union, allowing varying degrees of human activity according to the specific objectives for the area. ... There are a number of initiatives to establish a network of protected areas in the Arctic. One is the Arctic Council's Circumpolar Protected Area Network (CPAN) of terrestrial and marine sites. This network is intended to link current national systems and to incorporate sub-networks of Wetlands of International Importance established under the Ramsar Convention (1971) and other internationally designated sites. The IUCN and its World Commission on Protected Areas have established an Arctic Task Force and developed a Pan-Arctic Action Plan. One important task will be to implement the IUCN's Global Representative System of Marine Protected Areas in the Arctic. All Arctic countries are legally empowered to set aside marine areas for conservation purposes .... However, progress in establishing marine protected areas is poor and only a few exist. A major impediment is the longstanding resistance of northern communities that depend on marine resources for their livelihood and have come to consider the term "protected area" to mean "closed to human use," isolated from the surrounding society, and separated from the mainstream of socioeconomic activity. ... Over the past decade or so, with the development of the integrated ecosystem approach to conservation, specialists have come to realize that setting aside huge tracts of land or sea in which most human use is prohibited was probably overly strict, too costly, and often politically and socially counterproductive. Many managers of protected areas have concluded that this approach was based on the problematic assumption that human activity and nature conservation are intrinsically incompatible. These attitudes are also changing. ... Protected areas are an important part of an overall marine protection strategy, but their effectiveness will be compromised unless they are integrated into broader, sustainable use plans for Arctic development. ...