Global demand for goods continues to grow while Arctic summer sea ice is shrinking: Arctic shipping is heating up.
Governance in the world’s smallest ocean
The Central Arctic Ocean is the world’s smallest ocean and is surrounded by Eurasia and North America. As sea ice declines dramatically, many governments are eager to take advantage of the shipping routes and natural resources available in this vulnerable region.Read more
Why it matters
90% of goods are transported by ship, and Arctic routes represent huge potential savings in time and costs.
Although Arctic routes will not be open year round, companies are already investing billions of dollars in tankers capable of going through ice.
Trans-Arctic shipping routes
Shipping routes across the Arctic are significantly shorter than the routes commonly used today.
Take care near wildlifeWWF advises shipping companies on recognizing and avoiding marine mammals in ecologically sensitive areas.
©Rob Oo / flickr / CC BY
Prepare for icy conditionsShips venturing into Arctic waters must be prepared for Arctic conditions, especially those carrying ecologically hazardous cargos.
©Canon / Brutus Ostling / WWF-Sweden
Prevent the spread of invasivesOperational practices for ships operating in Arctic waters should forbid the discharge of ballast waters in Arctic areas to prevent the introduction of alien species. These measures need to be backed up with monitoring and enforcement.
©Hans Hillewaert / CC BY-SA 4.0
Ban the dirtiest fuelWWF is advocating for an Arctic-wide ban of Heavy fuel oil (HFO), a particularly dirty type of shipping fuel.
©US Geological Survey
How we work
Whales depend on sound to survive. WWF is working to limit sound pollution in Arctic waters by making parts of the ocean important for whales off limits to particularly loud industrial activities.
As the Arctic sea ice diminishes, shipping through the Bering Strait region will increase. WWF is working with partners to protect marine resources from the threat of shipwrecks and related oil spills, invasive species, ship strikes, and pollution.
Increasing demand for Greenlandic resources means ship traffic is likely to grow significantly over the next few decades. WWF advises on the risks and engages communities and governments in discussions about best practices for shipping and marine spatial planning.
WWF has mapped the enormous potential reach of an oil spill in the Barents Sea.
WWF has created maps and posters for Canadian ships in the Arctic to help mariners identify and avoid marine mammals.
Noise pollution from Arctic shipping more than doubled in six years putting whales and other marine life at risk26 May 2021
Pollution with an easy solution: Regulating underwater noise pollution for a healthy Arctic Ocean19 February 2021
WWF works with communities throughout the Arctic to help them deal with the effects of climate change, support research, and bring northern stories to a global audience.
What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. The Arctic is warming faster than any other region on Earth, and the world is already feeling the effects.