The Arctic Council’s Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Group launched the first bottle equipped with a GPS transmitter into the Atlantic on 12 September 2019. Called “plastic in a bottle”, the capsule will simulate how marine litter and plastics travel far distances into and out of Arctic waters. The collected data will serve as an outreach tool to create awareness around the growing concerns on marine litter in the Arctic. This first plastic in a bottle was sent off from the Reykjanes peninsula by Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Iceland’s Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources from the Icelandic Coast Guard vessel Thor in conjunction with the PAME Working Group meeting in Reykjavík. Iceland currently holds the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council until 2021 and places a special focus on marine litter and plastics in the Arctic.

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Editorial by Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials


The blue bioeconomy is and will be a major contributor to achieving sustainable development in the Arctic and beyond. The term “blue bioeconomy” refers to innovation potentials in utilizing and creating new marine products with the help of new unconventional processing methods. It is therefore also one of today’s main sources for great optimism for our region, especially given the Arctic Council’s specific focus on sustainable development and environmental protection.

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At its first Working Group meeting during the Icelandic Chairmanship, the Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response (EPPR) Working Group held a workshop on the VIKING SKY incident – a cruise liner that got into distress off the Southern Norwegian coast. Authorities involved in the rescue operation in March 2019 shared their experiences and lessons learned with EPPR delegates. Quickly the questions arose: How would this incident have played out in the high Arctic?

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At the most recent Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting (Rovaniemi, 6-7 May 2019), the Ministers of the Arctic States approved the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna’s (CAFF) Arctic Migratory Birds Initiative (AMBI) Work Plan 2019-2023. This ambitious plan provides the strategic framework and guidance for cooperation to conserve populations of Arctic breeding migratory birds experiencing alarming population decline.

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The Arctic is experiencing its worst wildfire season on record, affecting the environment and communities in the circumpolar North and beyond. Amongst the most affected are people in the Gwich’in territories in Alaska. They face a future of intensified wildfire seasons – and call upon the Arctic States to collaborate on both mitigation and emergency response measures. Edward Alexander is a member of the Gwich’in Council International (GCI), and in this interview he speaks about the impacts of wildfires and the projects GCI has submitted to Arctic Council Working Groups.

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Magnús Jóhannesson is the Council’s designated special coordinator on plastics, marine litter. In this interview, the former Director of the Arctic Council Secretariat speaks about the plastics issue in the Arctic, the Arctic Council’s efforts to tackle the issue and his new role within the Icelandic Chairmanship team.

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