IMG 2327As shipping activity in the Arctic has grown, PAME has seen a corresponding increase in its shipping-related projects. To better address the demands of these projects, PAME member governments realized that they needed to more effectively leverage the expertise, experience, and resources of Arctic Council Observers.

To do so, PAME's Shipping Expert Group launched a project in 2017 to develop a framework for more systematically engaging Observers in its shipping-related work within the parameters of the Arctic Council Rules of Procedures and supplementary guidance regarding Observers.

Since its initial approval as a project in PAME's 2017-2019 Work Plan, the co-leads (USA, Poland, South, Korea, Italy, and Northern Forum) have inventoried the ways in which Observers have contributed to PAME's shipping work, conducted a survey to identify challenges and impediments, and most recently held a workshop attended by more than 30 people at which a brainstorming exercise sought to flag options and opportunities for overcoming those challenges and impediments in a regularized, transparent, and comprehensive manner.

Participant in the workshop, pictured above, came from 10 of the 13 Arctic Council observer countries; India, Spain, United Kingdom, Poland, France, Switzwerland, the Netherlands, Germany, South Korea and Singapore.

The target outcome of the project is a written framework can that serve as a roadmap for systematic engagement with and by Observers in PAME's shipping work.

Observer Workshop agenda.
group photoThe PAME Working Group Meeting (PAME II-2019) was held from 10-12 September 2019 in Reykjavík, Iceland. Monday 9th of September was set aside for pre-meetings. The third day of the meeting will be held in Viðey Island. 

Underwater Noise A State of Knowledge reportThe Arctic region is a unique environment when it comes to underwater noise and the potential impacts that increasing noise levels could have on animals in the Arctic. There are a number of factors which contribute to its uniqueness compared to non-Arctic waters, including the sources of ambient sound, and how ice cover can affect sound propagation properties.

The Arctic is also home to a number of endemic marine species, many for which the making, hearing, and processing of sounds serve critical biological functions, including communication, foraging, navigation, and predator-avoidance. Most importantly, the culture and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic depend on the continued health of marine mammals, to a greater degree than in other regions of the world.

The issue of underwater noise and its effect on marine biodiversity has received increasing attention, with recognition by international and regional agencies, commissions and organisations. These include the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Maritime organization (IMO), the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the European Parliament and European Union, the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic and the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (HELCOM).

Internationally, work is currently underway in numerous fora to better understand the impacts and identify ways to mitigate the effects of underwater noise, including at the IMO, IWC, and at the United Nations more generally. In the 2009 Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) PAME first identified the issue of underwater noise as one which required further focus in the Arctic context, finding that “sound is of vital biological importance to most, if not all, marine vertebrates and anthropogenic noise produced through shipping can have various adverse effects on Arctic species.” PAME subsequently recommended that Arctic States engage with relevant international organisations to further assess the effects of ship noise on marine mammals, and to consider developing and implementing mitigation strategies.

Due to the recent activities on this topic, PAME decided to complete this State of Knowledge Review on Underwater Noise in the Arctic in order to get a baseline understanding of underwater noise in Arctic regions, including ambient sound levels, underwater noise created by anthropogenic activities, and impacts of underwater noise on marine life, including marine mammals, fish, and invertebrates.

This report is intended to be used as an overview of the current scientific knowledge on underwater noise in the Arctic. However, in the undertaking of this work, it has become clear that there are many gaps in this knowledge which, if addressed, could lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the effects of underwater noise on species of interest. That being said, this review will serve as a useful basis for which to consider where to focus future work and resources in both studying the issue of underwater noise in the Arctic context and in considering possible approaches in terms for mitigation strategies in reducing the effects or impacts of underwater noise on the Arctic marine environment and marine species.

Underwater Noise in the Arctic - A state of Knowledge Report

Day 1: June 3rd
  1. 10.00 - Hjalti and Michael
  2. 11.00 - Chris Oliver
  3. 11.15 - Rob Hindley
  4. 13.15 - Sascha Pristrom
  5. 13.30 - Jan Reinert Vestvik
  6. 14.00 - Knut Espen
  7. 14.15 - Vladimir Kuzmin
  8. 14.30 - John Lloyd
  9. 15.15 - Francesco Santangelo

Day 2: June 4th
  1. 09.15 - 4. June: Dan Hubbell 
  2. 09.30 - 4. June: Eduard Zdor
  3. 09.45 - 4. June: James Bond
  4. 11.00 - 4. June: Katharina Kaiser
IMG 2243The third meeting of the Arctic Council's Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum took place on June 3-4 2019 at the Embassy of the United States, London.

The purpose of the Forum is to support effective implementation of the IMO Polar Code by making publicly available on a dedicated web portal information relevant to all those involved in safe and environmentally sound Arctic shipping, including shipowners/operators, regulators, classification societies, marine insurers, and indigenous and local communities.

Forum's web-portal:

The Forum places particular emphasis on collecting information of use to Maritime Administrations and/or Recognized Organizations in issuing Polar Ship Certificates and conducting Operational Assessments, as well as information to be used by the shipowners and operators in developing Polar Water Operational Manuals.

More information on the Forum.

Third Forum meeting documents:
 - Meeting summary
 - Meeting agenda
 - Meeting focus document
 - List of participants
forsida - Information paper co-sponsored by all Arctic Council Member States submitted to IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 101), to be held 5 June to 14 June 2019, to introduce the Arctic Shipping Best Practice Information Forum and its web portal.
 - Press release from the meeting


Photos from the third meeting.