ArcNet: How does it work?
ArcNet stands for: An Arctic Ocean network of priority areas for conservation. This proposed network connects marine life throughout the Arctic Ocean and the adjacent seas to help the region become more resilient and sustainable.
Over the past four years, WWF brought together world-class experts specializing in Arctic species and ecosystems. They provided input on five different aspects of the project: marine mammals, seabirds, fish, sea ice biota and benthos (life found on the bottom of the ocean). Those experts helped define the project’s guiding principles, contributed data and evaluated the proposed network.
ArcNet’s proposed network and map are based on a comprehensive, rigorous scientific analysis using the best-available data. That data includes an extensive database of marine life that considers where more than 800 different features and functions of the Arctic’s ecosystem can be found.
The ArcNet Guide outlines how the conservation planning process is an opportunity for dialogue and collaboration amongst all the region’s marine stakeholders. For instance:
- ArcNet can be an important way to work more closely with local and Indigenous communities. In particular, ArcNet’s databases and maps can be further enhanced with Indigenous knowledge about the traditional hunting and fishing grounds of local communities.
- When the ArcNet map is overlaid with the tracks of ships moving through the Arctic, it becomes clear where, when and how increasing ship traffic is threatening marine life. Dialogue with the shipping industry can help reduce traffic within key migratory routes and important feeding, resting and calving areas of animals like bowhead whales or walrus.
- To facilitate data access, support finer-scale conservation planning and guide the establishment of conservation measures using ArcNet, two web portals were created for database query and custom analysis. A shapefile displaying the ArcNet PACs in mapping applications is also available.
ArcNet was designed to be as open and transparent as possible. To help governments and marine stakeholders adopt this approach, WWF is sharing the analysis tools with governments, marine planners, scientists, Arctic communities and industry so they can work together to establish priority areas for conservation.
Given the rapid pace of change happening in the Arctic, there needs to be ongoing engagement with the ArcNet process. This is just the beginning of a collaboration that establishes, adjusts and manages the network over time as the Arctic and its marine life continues to adapt.