Forum - Test site

shutterstock 49594732The establishment of the Arctic Marine 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).

Regional Waste Management Strategies for Arctic Shipping

RRF2According to PAME’s AMSA II(D) 2014 report, “Projected increases in Arctic shipping, especially in the tourism, fishing, energy and mining sectors, means that increased quantities of ship-generated waste will be generated and transported onboard ships travelling through the Arctic waters with an attendant increase in risk of pollution and discharges to the marine environment.”

Due to the unique Arctic marine environment, which is both environmentally sensitive and remote, compliance with MARPOL requirements as shipping increases in the future is imperative. One such requirement for Arctic port states is to ensure the provision of adequate port reception facilities (PRF) for certain ship generated waste, long recognized as a key element in MARPOL for the prevention of pollution from ships.

Additionally, Polar Code amendments to MARPOL Annexes entered into force starting in January 2017. Polar Code Amendments to MARPOL will challenge shipboard waste management due to discharge restrictions of operational waste in Arctic waters. All port States, including Arctic port States, under existing provisions in the MARPOL Annexes, must ensure the provision of adequate port reception facilities (PRF) for ship-generated waste. In order to meet this challenge PAME agreed that one approach to addressing PRF requirements in MARPOL for Arctic ports would be to consider the concept of regional agreements for waste management and reception of MARPOL wastes at ports in Arctic and near-Arctic areas.

Regional waste management strategies may help solve some of the challenges unique to Arctic shipping while meeting the spirit, if not the letter, of MARPOL in the Arctic. In 2014, PAME established a regional reception facilities expert group (RRF-EG). The RRF-EG presented their work plan and terms of reference (ToR) at PAME (II) 2014 and the project was subsequently included in PAME’s Work Plan (2015-2017) as approved by the SAOs.

This paper is a final report of the RRF-EG, having completed their work for this project under the ToR and presented the final report at PAME II 2016 that included a Regional Reception Facilities Plan (RRFP) based on existing IMO guidance. This document includes path forward, with approval of AC SAOs, for Arctic Council countries, through their IMO Delegations, to bring this work to the attention of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) for consideration.

Communication and Outreach

shutterstock 213338944PAME's main communication methods include reports, web portal(s), videos, conferences, meetings and workshops; and development of project-specific communication and outreach material.

Following are PAME’s main communication and outreach methods:

  • PAME regularly produces reports on projects, ranging from short background papers to policy makers to comprehensive reports on specific issues.

  PAME’s website (                          
  • PAME’s website is comprehensive and contains information on PAME and its projects, and a document library. The website boasts documents from PAME meetings (meeting reports), reports from PAME to the Senior Arctic Officials (SAO Reports), and PAME documents to SAO Ministers. It also includes a news-item section.
  • PAME’s website also has “protected areas” where a login username and passwords are needed to access documents, etc.

 PAME’s Social media                                                                                                                                                          

  Conferences, events, workshops and general communication                                                                                   
  • PAME regularly convenes workshops to contribute to specific projects, including with PAME’s expert groups o Status report to PAME meetings
  • Progress and status reports to the Senior Arctic Officials (biannually, fall and spring each year)
  • Other Arctic Council meetings/events
  • Regular presentations at Arctic-related events, including conferences etc.
  • Mailing lists for distribution of products and information
  • Contact with general media where appropriate

 Arctic Council Communications Strategy                                                                                                                         
PAME supports and works towards the Arctic Council Communication Strategy, which goals are to:
  • Strengthen the Arctic Council brand – reinforce perception of the Council as the preeminent international forum for addressing Arctic issues (relevant
  • Provide a “voice” for the Council on issues where it has achieved consensus – position the Council as an opinion leader on important Arctic issues (credible)
  • Highlight the many ways the Arctic Council contributes to positive outcomes in the Arctic, notably through the work of its subsidiary bodies (active)
  • Generate a positive narrative of international cooperation, sustainable development, and environmental protection that counters the popular but inaccurate narrative of conflict and a “rush to resources” in the Arctic

Arctic Marine Pollution

shutterstock 597223238PAME’s mandate is to address marine policy measures and other measures related to the conservation and sustainable use of the Arctic marine and coastal environment in response to environmental change from both land and sea-based activities, including non-emergency pollution prevention control measures. These measures include in coordinated strategic plans as well as developing programs, assessments, best practices and guidelines, all of which aim to complement or supplement existing legal and policy instruments and arrangements.

Marine litter
PAME has developed a project plan, which is included in the PAME 2017-2019 Work Plan for the project; Desktop Study on Marine Litter including Microplastics in the Arctic. Based on its outcomes, PAME will explore the possibility of developing an outline for a framework on an Arctic regional action plan on marine litter.

Marine litter is one of the most pshutterstock 401957716ervasive pollution problems affecting the marine environment globally. UNEP defines it as ‘any persistent, manufactured or processed solid material discarded, disposed of or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment’. Marine litter consists of items that have been made or used by people and deliberately discarded into the sea or rivers or on beaches; brought indirectly to the sea with rivers, sewage, storm water or winds; or accidentally lost, including material lost at sea in bad weather.

The universal challenge of addressing and managing marine litter is a useful illustration of the global and transboundary nature of many marine environmental problems.

Click here to read the project plan for the project Desktop Study on Marine Litter including Microplastics in the Arctic.

Regional Programme of Action
Arctic Council Ministers adopted the Regional Programme of Action for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (Arctic RPA) in 1998 and updated it in 2009. The Arctic-RPA is a dynamic programme of action that uses a step-wise approach for its implementation and recognizes the continually evolving situation in the Arctic environment and the need for an integrated approach. It is the regional extension of the GPA, and as such provides a framework for addressing the main pollution source categories and respond to the global concerns. Marine Litter is one of eight contaminant categories of the GPA and the Arctic RPA.

Arctic Marine Strategic Plan
The Arctic Council’s Arctic Marine Strategic Plan 2015-2025 (AMSP) provides a framework to guide its actions to protect Arctic marine and coastal ecosystems and to promote sustainable development. The Strategic Plan addresses both short-term and long-term challenges and opportunities, through forty Strategic Actions. They include:
  • 7.1.3: Improve the understanding of cumulative impacts on marine ecosystems from multiple human activity-induced stressors such as climate change, ocean acidification, local and long range transported pollution (land and sea-based), marine litter, noise, eutrophication, biomass overharvesting, invasive alien species and other threats. 

  • 7.2.8: Actively support efforts, in cooperation with indigenous peoples, to:
    • reduce long range pollution accumulating in the Arctic marine food-chains, and; 

    • address climate change and ocean acidification by reducing emissions and implementing adaptation measures, as a matter of urgency. 

  • 7.3.3: Explore whether there are substances in addition to oil that would benefit from additional pollution preparedness and response cooperation among the Arctic states.

Arctic Ocean Review

Arctic Council Ministers initiated the Arctic Ocean Review (AOR) project in 2009 under the leadership of the PAME working group to provide guidance to the Council on possible ways to strengthen governance, and to achieve desired environmental, economic and socio-cultural outcomes in the Arctic through a cooperative, coordinated and integrated approach to the management of activities in the Arctic marine environment.

AOR includes a chapter on Arctic Marine Pollution, including two recommendations:
  1. Arctic states should continue to identify, monitor and assess the combined effects of multiple stressors – inter alia climate change, ocean acidification, shipping, living marine resource use, regional and long-range pollution, and offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction – on Arctic marine species and ecosystems. Support the ongoing work under EBM, AMAP and CAFF including the initiative “Adaptation Actions for a Changing Arctic” to achieve this endeavor and strengthen the link between the current known status and future management of Arctic marine species and ecosystems.
  2. Arctic states should reaffirm the importance of their engagement in the UNFCC to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions as a matter of urgency, recognizing the significant potential threats posed to Arctic marine ecosystems and Arctic biodiversity from climate change and ocean acidification identified by AMAP and CAFF. Arctic states should also increase their leadership role in the study of ocean acidification in Arctic waters.

AMSP Documents

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
AMSP front Small

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.

Click here to download.

Screen Shot 2016 09 19 at 10.40.59

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.

Click to download.

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.

Click to download.


 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.

Download the report

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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