How we work
© Elisabeth Kruger / WWF-US

Arctic shipping

Global demand for goods continues to grow while Arctic summer sea ice is shrinking: Arctic shipping is heating up.

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.

Our solutions


Take care near wildlife

WWF advises shipping companies on recognizing and avoiding marine mammals in ecologically sensitive areas.
©Rob Oo / flickr / CC BY

Prepare for icy conditions

Ships 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 invasives

Operational 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 fuel

WWF 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

A quieter ocean for Arctic whales

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.

Assessing shipping risk

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.

Reducing shipping impacts in Greenland

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.

Reducing the oil spill risk

WWF has mapped the enormous potential reach of an oil spill in the Barents Sea.

Tools for mariners

WWF has created maps and posters for Canadian ships in the Arctic to help mariners identify and avoid marine mammals.


Getting it right in a new ocean - report
Getting it right in a new ocean - report
26 November 2018
Getting it right in a new ocean - summary
Getting it right in a new ocean - summary
25 November 2018
The Circle 04.18
The Circle 04.18
1 October 2018
Canada’s Arctic Marine Atlas
Canada’s Arctic Marine Atlas
17 September 2018
Canadian Arctic Greywater Report
Canadian Arctic Greywater Report
17 August 2018
The Circle 03.18
The Circle 03.18
17 July 2018
See all 16 publications

Meet the team


Senior program officer, WWF-US Arctic Field Program


Senior Specialist, Arctic shipping


Senior Advisor, Greenland and the Arctic


Specialist, Arctic shipping and marine conservation