At the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska in May of 2017, Oceana was one of seven new Observers admitted by Ministers. Get to know Oceana and its Arctic connections in the interview below.
Give us a brief introduction to Oceana, and tell us a bit about its connection to the Arctic.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. With offices in North America, Central America, South America, Europe and Asia, Oceana’s professional staff around the world work together to win policy victories that restore and maintain ocean abundance and biodiversity. We aim to strengthen and sustain responsible fishery management practices, combat climate change and pollution, prevent seafood fraud, and reduce illegal and unregulated fishing to ensure the world’s oceans are healthy and productive for generations to come.
Oceana has long partnered with Arctic communities, indigenous groups, and appropriate organizations to further the shared goal of protecting and preserving critical Arctic marine habitats. Our Arctic-focused work addresses climate change, oil and gas activities, shipping and the identification of Important Ecological Areas. We have developed an approach that incorporates western science and local Indigenous Knowledge to identify Important Ecological Areas to be considered as ecosystem management decisions are made. As part of an effort to stamp out illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, Oceana supports national and international precautionary management that limits the expansion of industrial commercial fishing operations in Arctic waters unless and until it is known that such operations will not harm the Arctic ocean ecosystem. This is important as marine fish such as Arctic cod are a critical link in the Arctic food web that supports Arctic wildlife and subsistence resources. We are committed to protecting the health and resilience of Arctic ecosystems.
Why is Observer status an important component of the Arctic “profile” of Oceana?
The Arctic Council is the principal international forum fostering partnerships, collaboration, and communication among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities, and other stakeholders on Arctic issues. The Council is at the forefront of addressing sustainable development practices and environmental protections for critical ecosystems. Being named as an official observer to the Arctic Council provides Oceana the chance to meaningfully participate in the efforts of the Working Groups to address the impacts of climate change and commercial expansion into the Arctic.
Oceana works to achieve informed policy decisions on local, regional, national and international levels to protect and preserve the world’s oceans. The opportunity to engage in the Arctic Council’s Working Groups and to observe the work of the Council will enable Oceana to work more effectively towards enacting lasting protections for vulnerable ecosystems in this extraordinary part of the world.
As you look ahead, what specific ways do you hope to contribute to the work of the Arctic Council?
The Arctic is changing rapidly, and we must be ready to respond. Oceana’s United States, Canadian, and European offices will collaborate to bring extensive policy and scientific expertise to the Working Group process. At the Arctic Council, we intend to further partnerships between scientific and local communities to identify sustainable solutions for the region that address the challenges posed by climate change, industrial fishing, increased vessel traffic, oil and gas exploration and development, and marine pollution. Oceana welcomes the opportunity to apply lessons learned around the world about sound ecosystem management and ocean conservation practices to protect one of the last pristine environments on earth.
(Thanks to Susan Murray, Deputy Vice President, Pacific, at Oceana for providing the responses above.)
Resources and references (Click any link below)
Arctic Council backgrounder
Finnish Chairmanship information
Images for media use
The Arctic Council on Facebook
The Arctic Council on Twitter
The Arctic Council Working Groups: ACAP, AMAP, CAFF, EPPR, PAME and SDWG.