Important marine areas in the Arctic

Published 24 September 2012

Taking the icy lid off the Arctic opens this environment to new opportunities but also to new threats and new aspects of existing threats.

This document maps:

  • a compilation of available information on identification of important marine areas in the Arctic from various sources;
  • a compilation of data on two significant threats to the marine environment coming from oil and gas and shipping industries.
  • There are multiple approaches for the description and identification of marine important areas with a variety of terms used for their description including:
  • Ecologically or biologically significant areas (described according to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Decisions IX/20 and X/29);
  • Priority areas for biodiversity conservation (WWF);
  • Marine priority areas (for conservation) (WWF and TNC);
  • Marine areas of heightened ecological and cultural significance (Arctic Council working groups)

All these terms and areas identified and presented on maps in this document are areas described as important for conservation based on similar but various criteria, and at this moment have no specific legal management or conservation regime.

Some elements of these areas already have formal protection status within existing marine protected areas as shown on the CAFF map.

The aim of this document is to factually present the available information to further facilitate discussions and work within the Arctic Council and among Arctic stakeholders to provide for a full scientific description of important Arctic marine areas.

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