shutterstock 29795479Since the AMSP was adopted in 2004, the Arctic marine environment has been subject to increasing pressures from climate change, economic activities and pollution. The Arctic Council is at the forefront of responses to these emerging issues through the development of in-depth reports and assessments, such as the State of the Arctic Environment Report, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA), the Arctic Oil and Gas Assessment (AOGA), and ongoing work such as the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA), Arctic Ocean Review (AOR) and the Recommended Practices for Arctic Oil Spill Prevention (RP3).

The working groups of the Arctic Council, AMAP, PAME, CAFF, EPPR and SDWG have indicated that most strategic actions of the AMSP have been completed or are progressing according to plan, to be concluded within this or the next work plan period.

The Implementation section in the AMSP states that "PAME, in collaboration with all Arctic Council subsidiary bodies, will lead a review of the Strategic Plan by 2010, or another date specified by the Council, to determine its adequacy in light of the results of ongoing assessments and national and regional reporting.”

Therefore, it was deemed timely to update and revise, as relevant, the AMSP (2004) to secure a healthy, productive, and resilient Arctic Ocean and coasts; and to ensure that the future strategic approach to management of the Arctic marine environment is coordinated between the working groups, is based on ecosystem - based approach, and that results are effectively implemented.

Revisions to the AMSP will provide the building blocks towards more coordinated and integrated approaches and supports policy decisions at the local, national, regional and international levels. It also responds to commitments by the global community to sustainable development and protection of marine biodiversity and the marine environment through the application of the ecosystem approach and integrated coastal and ocean management.

The overall goals of AMSP:

- That the Arctic marine environment to be managed using an integrated, ecosystem approach to management.
- That the cumulative environmental effects do not exceed a level at which structure, functioning and productivity of ecosystems and biodiversity are maintained.
 - An Arctic Council product and a platform for common efforts in the years to come - Coordination and engagement from working groups essential to create our strategic actions for the next decade.

AMSP Timeline:

- Mid June 2013: Scoping workshop on zero draft.
- September 2013: Discussion of 1st draft at PAME II 2013
- February/March 2014: 2nd draft at PAME I 2014
- September 2014: Final workshop and discussions/inputs at PAME II 2014
- Final product by end of 2014 for formal adoption by PAME I 2015 and spring SAO 2015
- May 2015: Final revised AMSP submitted to the Ministerial meeting for approval

 Arctic Marine Strategic Plan 2015-2025                                                                                                           

AMSPAMSP - Implementation PlanAMSP - Communication Plan
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The AMSP articulates how the Arctic Council can increase its under-standing of the impacts of human activities, climate change and ocean acidification. The AMSP recognizes the importance of acquiring a better understanding of Arctic change so that actions can be taken that allow Arctic inhabitants, including Arctic indigenous peoples to further adapt to the change. The strategic actions identified in the AMSP will guide the work of the Arctic Council and its subsidiary bodies in the coming decade.

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The aim of the Implementation Plan for the AMSP 2015-2025 forty strategic actions is to provide a structured approach that tracks follow-up activities (new and ongoing) over the next 10 years among the Arctic Council working groups with overall guidance from the SAOs.

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Screen Shot 2016 09 19 at 10.40.20The 2015 Arctic Marine Strategic Plan calls for the development of a communication plan to support the understanding and involvement in the implementation of the Strategic plan.

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 Arctic Marine Strategic Plan 2005-2015                                                                                                        

AMSP PDFThe Arctic Marine Strategic Plan (AMSP) was endorsed by Arctic Council Ministers in November 2004. The Arctic Council's vision for the Arctic marine environment is:

"A healthy and productive Arctic Ocean and coasts that support environmental, economic and sociocultural values for current and future generations."

The goals of this Strategic Plan were:
  • Reduce and prevent pollution in the Arctic marine environment
  • Conserve Arctic marine biodiversity and ecosystem functions
  • Promote the health and prosperity of all Arctic inhabitants
  • Advance sustainable Arctic marine resource use
The environmental, economic and socio-cultural changes occurring in the Arctic today are primarily driven by two key factors: climate change and increasing economic activity. The 29 strategic actions in the AMSP were selected according to its goals, principles and approaches, taking into consideration the current and emerging situation affecting the Arctic marine environment, its ecological integrity and the social, cultural, economic and physical well-being of its peoples.

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Download booklet - Concise version of the report and the project

AMSP update documents and reports

Workshop report

Final AMSP Workshop report 6th of Sep 2013The 1st scoping workshop for the revision of the 2004 Arctic Marine Strategic Plan was held at the facilities of Radisson Blue Saga Hotel in Reykjavik, Iceland June 13-14, 2013. The aim of the workshop was to get input from other Arctic Council working groups and stakeholders as relevant on a ”zero” draft of the revised AMSP (version 31st of May) which was distributed to participants prior to the workshop.

This draft was prepared by a consultant and has not gone through any review by co-lead countries but served as a good base for initiating discussions. It was based on the main outcomes and relevant documents delivered to the 2013 Kiruna Ministerial meeting and other international reports and policies.

The contents of this workshop report summarizes each of the presentations made by experts and subsequent discussions, and does not necessarily reflect the views or a consensus of all participants. This report does not attempt to resolve any contrasting opinions between presenters or participants, but rather to capture the key elements of each presentation made during the workshop.

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AMSP documents and reports

Background papers

The following subject areas or themes were used to assist PAME in the development of an Arctic Marine Strategic Plan for the Arctic Council.

Background Papers

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Arctic Shipping Activites into the next Decade

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Understanding Science

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Ips paper

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Oil and gas Activities in the Arctic Part 1

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Oil and gas Activities in the Arctic Part 2

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Environmental Impacts of offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic

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Ocean Governance and its implementation: Guiding Principles for the Arctic Region

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Ecosystem - Based Approaches for Conserving Artic Biodiversity

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Financial and Partnership Approaches in Addressing, Land-Based

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Environmental Emergencias and Risk Management

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Other documents

Workshop Report
In order to ensure broad-based input and facilitate the development of a strategic plan, Iceland and Canada co-hosted a workshop in Reykjavik, Iceland, October 20-22, 2003. The principle objective of this workshop was to provide a forum for exchanging information and ideas on drivers of change, trends in oceans management and possible circumpolar responses to Arctic oceans issues.

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AMSP CommunicationsPlan
AMSP Communications Plan to support understanding and involvement on the implementation of the Strategic Plan.

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Arctic Council Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines report (2009)

Arctic Guidelines 2009 13th Mar2009Purpose of the Guidelines

These Guidelines are intended to be of use to the Arctic nations for offshore oil and gas activities during planning, exploration, development, production and decommissioning to help secure common policy and practices.

The Guidelines are intended to define a set of recommended practices and outline strategic actions for consideration by those responsible for regulation of offshore oil and gas activities (including transportation and related onshore activities) in the Arctic. The goal is to assist regulators in developing standards, which are applied and enforced consistently for all offshore Arctic oil and gas operators.

While recognizing the nonbinding nature of these Guidelines, they are intended to encourage the highest standards currently available. They are not intended to prevent States from setting equivalent or stricter standards, where appropriate.

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Guidelines for Transfer of Refined Oil and Oil Products in Arctic Waters (TROOPS) - November 2002

Arctic Council - Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines - October 2002

Circumpolar Marine Workshop November 28 - December 2 - 1999, Report and Recommendations

Joint Russian-United States-Norwegian Arctic (RUNARC) Project: Safety and Environmental Regime for Russian Offshore Oil and Gas Operations

RUNARCfeasibility-ENFeasibility Study Report 1998

The RUNARC project was started in February 1997 and produced a Feasibility Study in 1998 whose goal was to analyze, incorporate and make additions to the existing legislative, normative-juridical acts, normative-technical documents, and help to introduce into practice the modern forms of oil- and gas-producing operations on the shelf, and to determine the probability of success of development and implementation of the safety and environmental protection regime that would satisfy the needs of Russia, taking into account international standards, including technical regulations and standards of USA and Norway, as well as acceptance of actions for obtaining the consent of the Russian Government to implement recommendations of the project.

The FS includes the following tasks:

  • definition of desirable goals;
  • analysis and preliminary assessment of the existing legislative, normative-juridical base providing environmental and industrial safety, labor protection during works on continental shelf;
  • working out proposals on preparation of additions and amendments, as well as new legislative acts, normative documents, technical regulations, state (branch) standards defining safety of works on shelf.

Click to open RUNARC Feasibility Study, Moscow 1998

Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines - 1997


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Environmental impact assessment information from Arctic states

 Canada EIA links

 Norway EIA links

 Greenland EIA links

 USA EIA links

shutterstock 566522605The establishment of the Arctic Shipping Best Practices Information Forum is in response to the newly adopted International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The aim of the Forum is to raise awareness of its provisions amongst all those involved in or potentially affected by Arctic marine operations and to facilitate the exchange of information and best practices between the Forum members on specific shipping topics, including but not limited to; hydrography, search and rescue logistics, industry guidelines and ship equipment, systems and structure. A publicly accessible web-portal will be created with information specific to each topic.

The Forum membership is open to Arctic States, Permanent Participants and Arctic Council Observers as well as any widely-recognized professional organization dedicated to improving safe and environmentally sound marine operations in the Arctic as demonstrated by expertise and experience in Arctic shipping and/or related issues.

The Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Group of the Arctic Council approved the Forum's Terms of Reference at their last meeting (February 2017).

Forum topics 
Click to access information from Forum members

hydrography    meteorology    icedata    crewtraining
ecologicalknowledge   operationalunderstanding    shipsystems    wastemanagement 

IMO in the polar environment: the Polar Code explained

shutterstock 211957870PAME's workshop - "Understanding MPA Networks as Tools for Resilience in a Changing Arctic," took place in Copenhagen, Denmark from 2-3 February 2017. The workshop is one in a series for which the purpose is to support a PAME project studying best practices for linking area-based conservation measures to categories of Arctic marine biodiversity in support of the long-term conservation of the Arctic marine environment and associated services and cultural values.

The workshop included:
  1. a continuation of the discussion from the 1st workshop (held in September 2016) on approaches for understanding and managing spatial variability of ecological connectivity affected by anticipated climate change, as well as how MPA networks can help build resilience to climate change;
  2. presentations and dialogue on what design elements are important to consider and include when developing MPA networks in a changing climate; and
  3. the development of additional guidance that will be used to expand and refine the “MPA Toolkit.”

Project Description
PAME’s Framework for a Pan-Arctic Marine Protected Areas Network document recognizes that individual Arctic countries pursue MPA development based on their own authorities and priorities, and that MPA networks can be comprised of "both MPAs and other area-based measures that contribute to network objectives”.

PAME’s “toolbox” project aims to develop guidance to assist countries in advancing MPA networks in the Arctic. The project will produce this guidance in the form of a catalogue of examples of diverse existing area-based measures, including different types of marine protected areas and of “other area-based conservation measures” that contribute to the long-term conservation of important categories of Arctic marine biodiversity (e.g. important species and habitats).

IMG 2587Over the course of the 2015-2017 work cycle, project leads hosted two workshops. While the first workshop focused on toolbox development by identifying and mapping types of connectivity in the Arctic, the second focused on connectivity and climate change. The toolbox is intended to be a living document that will be expanded and refined over time.

Workshop Objectives
  • Develop our understanding of ecological resilience and how MPA networks can help support it.
  • Develop our understanding and principles to guide management of MPAs and MPA networks to enhance ecological resilience in a changing environment.
  • Develop our understanding of key elements for designing MPA networks that support ecological resilience in a changing environment.
  • Identify priorities for future scientific and/or other collaboration to apply knowledge and guidance to MPA network design.
  • Identify potential next steps to advance understanding of how MPA network design and management can support ecological resilience to a changing environment.

Name of presentation Presenter Download
Resilience – an introduction Martin Sommerkorn (WWF Arctic Programme)  Download
Overview of Impacts of a Physical constrains of productivity in the Arctic Ocean: Changing Environment on the trajectories into the future? Biodiversity Paul Wassmann (UiT - The Arctic University of Norway)  Download
MPAs and Networks as tools for resilience  Dan Laffoley (IUCN)  Download
Ecological Connectivity and Resilience: Implication for Marine Protected Areas Mark H. Carr (University of California, Santa Cruz)  Download
Resilience through an MPA Network: A Hawaii Case Study Todd Stevenson (Circumpolar Conservation Union)  Download
PAME’s MPA network toolbox through a resilience lens Martin Sommerkorn (WWF Arctic Programme)  Download
Valuable and vulnerable areas: the case of the Barents Sea Cecilie H. von. Quillfeldt (Norwegian Polar Institute)  Download
Working Toward Resilient Marine Protected Area Networks In the US Arctic Lauren Wenzel (National Marine Protected Areas Center)  Download
MPAs and MPA Networks for Resilience - Canadian Case Studies and Opportunities Nadine Templeman (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)  Download
Designing network of MPA in the Russian Arctic to support ecosystem resilience. Irina Onufrenya (WWF Russia)  Download
Resilience and Connectivity Values of MPAs: Planning for Top Trophic Marine Animal Conservation in the Barents Region and Beyond Kit Kovacs (Norway) Download
Guidelines for Designing MPA Networks to Promote Resilience of Arctic Marine Ecosystems in a Changing Climate Lisa Speer (Natural Resource Defense Council) Download
Building Resilient MPA Networks – Summary of Commission for Environmental Cooperation Reports Dr. Ellen Kenchington (Canada Bedford Institute of Oceanography Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada) Download
Ecosystem Resilience
What is it and how can we measure it?
Benjamin Planque (Institute of Marine Research - Norway)  Download
Modeling Tools for Designing for Resilience – Connectivity Under Changed Conditions Patrick Halpin (Duke University)  Download

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shutterstock 213023194The Arctic Ship Traffic Data (ASTD) project is an initiative from PAME to collect historical information about shipping activity in the Arctic. The project will collect historical information on shipping activity in the Arctic from the Arctic Council member states for trend analysis and related purposes under the realm of the Arctic Council.

The ASTD project will allow the Arctic Council member governments and the Arctic Council as a whole, to facilitate trend analysis on ship traffic in the Arctic, including the number of ships in the Arctic, types of ships, exact routes and other related and relevant information. The trends can be used for the council members Arctic affairs.

Products will benefit a wide-range of audiences, as the data repository will allow for the production of graphics, maps and tables of ship traffic information to be used in reports/analyses and other initiatives. This project is a significant step by PAME to reduce the knowledge gap of circumpolar ship traffic in the Arctic as its member governments have been actively looking for ways to increase vessel traffic awareness since 2011.

With changes in the Arctic sea ice extent and projected changes and increase in shipping in the Arctic, the database will allow the Arctic Council to be at the forefront of monitoring trends and assessing any changes for use in its studies, assessments, trend analyses, and the development of recommendations that enhance Arctic marine safety and support protection of Arctic people and the environment.

The project is based on the database developed in 2005 for the release of the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment Report (AMSA 2009). It is therefore an initiative derived from the AMSA 2009 Report and builds on similar principles, but will be applying a more advanced technology for data collection and presentation.

This project has the same goal, but will look to secure sustainability by collecting and providing ongoing historical shipping data, rather than collecting information for a given year like the 2005 AMSA database did. The Arctic Ship Traffic Data (ASTD) project will use the same geographical scope as its predecessor where each Arctic member government defined its own Arctic waters.

See a video about the project:

shutterstock 214744963The project will develop a comprehensive shipping database which has the capability to collect and display detailed statistics on various aspects of shipping in the Arctic and has the capability to incorporate additional features as may be needed in the future. That includes datasets on biodiversity in the Arctic and environmental data.

The Norwegian Coastal Administration will host and oversee this database within their current platform of their marine database - Havbase. This new shipping database will be compatibility with others systems such as the Arctic SDI platform and the Arctic biodiversity data service.

The Shipping Database will help the Arctic Council grasp the unprecedented changes in Arctic Shipping realized over the last decade. It will furthermore give the Arctic Council and its subsidiary bodies a unique opportunity to utilize reliable shipping-related data layers from the eight member states in for example scientific assessments, monitoring, research projects, policy-related work, outreach, communication and teaching.

The aim is that this databased by fully running in 2018.

Below is a video demonstrating the capabilities of the Havbase system:

See also: