At the 9th Arctic Council ministerial meeting, held in Iqaluit, Nunavut Canada in April 2015, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s Minister for the Arctic Council, formally handed the Arctic Council Chairmanship to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, chair of the Arctic Council during the U.S. Chairmanship. On this occasion, Arctic ministers adopted an ambitious new work plan organized around three thematic pillars. The second of these – Arctic Ocean safety, security & stewardship – is addressed by numerous elements of the Council’s work plan for the years ahead.

The cross-cutting issue of Arctic Marine Cooperation will be taken up by a new Task Force that will explore how collaborative efforts in the Arctic marine environment might be enhanced and what mechanism(s) might be appropriate to enrich these collaborative efforts.

Beyond the task force, several Arctic Council working groups are undertaking important initiatives that further the important goal of Arctic Ocean safety, security and stewardship. Working Group AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme) plans to update its landmark 2013 assessment of Arctic Ocean Acidification with new information on the extent and effects of acidification in the Arctic Ocean, including case studies of the impacts of ocean acidification in several specific Arctic areas. Working group EPPR (Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response) plans to develop a searchable database of Arctic response assets (e.g., Arctic-specific equipment, vessels, dispersant stockpiles, in situ burn booms, well containment and cap-and-flow devices) that are available to member states of the Arctic Council in case an incident requires their use. And working group PAME (Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment), building on the Framework for a Pan-Arctic MPA Network approved by Ministers in Iqaluit, will develop a toolbox that demonstrates how different types of MPAs and other area-based conservation measures can be used to conserve categories of Arctic marine biodiversity and habitat.

This is a small sample of the work planned by the Arctic Council for the next two years to support the goal of Arctic Ocean safety, security and stewardship. A more complete picture can be found in the Senior Arctic Officials’ Report to Ministers from the Iqaluit 2015 ministerial meeting. Click here to read the full report.


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Get to know all six Arctic Council Working Groups: ACAP, AMAP, CAFF, EPPR, PAME and SDWG.
Click for more information on the U.S. Chairmanship or an introductory backgrounder on the Arctic Council.

Photo credit: Arctic Council Secretariat / Tom Fries