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News Archive

Whitehorse family photo 450x300The Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials and Permanent Participant organizations, which represent indigenous peoples of the Arctic region, held their fourth and final meeting during Canada’s Chairmanship on March 2-5, in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.

“Canada has put Northerners at the forefront of the Arctic Council’s agenda”, said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Chair of the Arctic Council and Canada’s Minister for the Arctic Council, Minister of the Environment and Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency. “Under our chairmanship, the Council has prioritized actions that will better the lives of Arctic residents”.

In Whitehorse, Senior Arctic Officials and Permanent Participants heard from the Arctic Council’s working groups and task forces on the progress being made on the Arctic Council’s ambitious program of work, including the priority initiatives under the Canadian chairmanship theme ‘Development for the People of the North’. These priorities include: ensuring responsible economic development in the Arctic; promoting circumpolar mental wellness; incorporating traditional and local knowledge into the work of the Council; and developing actions on marine oil pollution prevention and on short-lived climate pollutants – in particular, black carbon and methane.

Many projects and deliverables were approved for delivery to the April 24-25, 2015 Iqaluit Ministerial, including projects that promote sustainable development, protect biodiversity, enhance emergency preparedness and response, protect the marine environment, and assess and address pollutants in the Arctic.

“This meeting was particularly important as it was the final Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting during Canada’s chairmanship,” said Vincent Rigby, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials. “We are now in an excellent position to deliver ambitious results in Iqaluit. As always, I am pleased with the high level of cooperation shown by all of our Arctic Council partners.”

The Iqaluit 2015 Ministerial Meeting will mark the conclusion of Canada’s second chairmanship of the Arctic Council and the beginning of the second US chairmanship. The first Ministerial Meeting was also held in Iqaluit at the conclusion of Canada’s first Chairmanship (1996-1998).

While in Whitehorse, the Arctic Council also presented a public outreach event at Yukon College focusing on the Council’s work to address black carbon and methane emissions in the Arctic and to develop an online climate change adaptation portal.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.08.28The Committe on the Marine Transportation system in the USA has released the report, “A 10-Year Projection of Maritime Activity in the U.S. Arctic Region.”

It provides estimates of vessel traffic (numbers of vessels and transits) based on modeling of current vessel activity patterns, growth potential, and vessel projection scenarios, including diversion from other routes, and oil and gas development.

The report also completes the first milestone of the National Strategy for the Arctic Region (NSAR) 2014 Implementation Plan, which is intended to guide Federal activities related to the construction, maintenance, and improvement of marine transportation Arctic infrastructure.

For more information, click the following links.
The report: A 10-Year Projection of Maritime Activity in the U.S. Arctic Region
Executive Summary: Ten-Year Projection Study of Maritime Activity in the U.S. Arctic Region

IMG 3112The PAME working group held the first of its two annual meetings in Akureyri this week. The meeting began on Monday with pre-meetings between the expert groups, on shipping, ecosystem approach, oil and gas and marine protected areas. After a long day of meetings the PAME Secretariat walked with the group of around 60 participants to the location of the Secretariat for a cocktail. Traditional Icelandic food was served, along with "normal" food, and Icelandic local beer.

The PAME I 2015 officially began on Tuesday with the whole day devoted to updates to the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment. Updates to the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan 2015-2025 were also addressed. The evening saw the group taking an excursion to the Nature Baths near Lake Mývatn.

IMG 3128The Wednesday followed up the Tuesday meeting, addressing issues such as Arctic marine protected areas, the ecosystem approach and oil and gas regulations. In the afternoon the experts met again for further discussions before Record of Decisions were written by each expert group.

The meeting concluded on Thursday, covering issues such as the PAME 2015-2017 work plan and the Records of Decisions.

The PAME Secretariat thanks all the participants for an enjoyable and succesful meeting in Akureyri.

Please see the PAME Secretariat's Facebook page for more pictures.

ABAThe Arctic Biodiversity Congress was held by CAFF in December. Its purpose was to promote the conservation and sustainable use of Arctic biodiversity through dialogue among scientists, policy-makers, government officials, industry, civil society and indigenous peoples.

CAFF released the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) in 2013. One of the main goals of the Congress was to present and discuss the main scientific findings in the ABA.

ABA2Over 400 participants met in Trondheim, Norway, for the Congress which was a success in every aspect. A Co-Chairs Report has already been published, it can be downloaded here, or accessed from the Congress website front page.

Winners in the Arctic biodiversity "through the lens" photo competition were also announced

The PAME working group was represented by several attendees, including the executive director of the PAME Secretariat, Soffía Guðmundsdóttir.

pame2The PAME Secretariat was invited to a meeting with a delegation from the Republic of Korea in November to discuss several issues regarding the PAME working group. Korea is a permanent observer to the Arctic Council.

They delegation was led by Jong-Deong (Justin) Kim director general go the strategy research division of the Korea Maritime Institute, and head of the Polar Policy Research Centre. Also in the delegation was Lee Tae-won, director of the economic cooperation division of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Seung Woo Han, director of the department of Policy at the Korea Polar Research Institute and a representative from the ministry of the environment. Odin Kwon, vice president of DSME also attended the meeting.

The meeting was very fruitful and its results are currently being worked on from both ends.

The picture sees representatives from the PAME Secretariat, Soffía Guðmundsdóttir - executive director, and Hjalti Hreinsson, program officer, with the Korean delegation.
 MG 4348The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code), and related amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to make it mandatory, marking an historic milestone in the Organization’s work to protect ships and people aboard them, both seafarers and passengers, in the harsh environment of the waters surrounding the two poles.

Visit the IMO Website.

The Polar Code and SOLAS amendments were adopted during the 94th session of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), which was meeting at the Organization's London headquarters for its 94th session, from 17 to 21 November 2014.

The Polar Code covers the full range of design, construction, equipment, operational, training, search and rescue and environmental protection matters relevant to ships operating in waters surrounding the two poles.

Ships trading in the polar regions already have to comply with all relevant international standards adopted by IMO, but the newly adopted SOLAS chapter XIV “Safety measures for ships operating in polar waters”, adds additional requirements, by making mandatory the Polar Code (Preamble, Introduction and Part I-A (Safety measures)).

The Polar Code highlights the potential hazards of operating in polar regions, including ice, remoteness and rapidly changing and severe weather conditions, and provides goals and functional requirements in relation to ship design, construction, equipment, operations, training, and search and rescue, relevant to ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters.

As well as mandatory provisions, recommendations are also include in a Part 1-B.

The expected date of entry into force of the SOLAS amendments is 1 January 2017, under the tacit acceptance procedure. It will apply to new ships constructed after that date. Ships constructed before 1 January 2017 will be required to meet the relevant requirements of the Polar Code by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever occurs first, after 1 January 2018.

Because it contains both safety and environment related provisions, the Polar Code will be mandatory under both SOLAS and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). Last month (October 2014), IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) approved the necessary draft amendments to make the environmental provisions in the the Polar Code mandatory under MARPOL. The MEPC is expected to adopt the Code and associated MARPOL amendments at its next session in May 2015, with an entry-into-force date to be aligned with the SOLAS amendments.

(From left to right): Dan Slavik, Jon L. Fuglestad, Stanislav Formin, Joclyn Paulic, Alf Håkon Hoel,
Tomomi Nomaki, Erik Olsen, Phil Mundy, Catherine Coon,
Karoline Andaur, Takashi Kikuchi,
Hein Rune Skjoldal, Maryann Fidel and
William Koeoppen (Photo: Bjarni Eiríksson / PAME)

The Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group (PAME), held its 4th Ecosystem Approach workshop in the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 16-18 of June 2014. The subtitle of the workshop was; Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) – Understanding National Approaches and Reviewing Progress on IEA in Arctic LMEs straddling national boundaries: The Beaufort and Barents Seas.

Members of the PAME led Ecosystem Approach Expert Group included representatives from Canada, Norway, the United States, the Aleut International Association, AMAP and CAFF working groups, in addition to experts from a number of institutions, including the WWF and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. The workshop also received input via video link from experts who could enjoy the pleasantly of their home office and still make a valuable contribution to the workshop.

The three day workshop included sessions on;

    • An overview of the history and approaches of Ecosystem based management (EA/EBM) and integrated ecosystem approach (IEA), and current projects on EA/EBM and IEA within the Arctic Council.
    • The national overviews from the Beaufort, Approaches to IEA in the Beaufort Sea.
    • National overviews from the Barents, Approaches to IEA in the Barents and
    • Discussions and Lessons learned.

The workshop report will soon be available on the PAME website (www.pame.is).

Click here to see other photos from the workshop.

EA Concept Paper
PAME has published a Concept Paper on Ecosystem Approach to Management of the Arctic marine ecosystems. This Paper defines the EA approach and identifies the framework for implementation of the EA in the Arctic and emphasizes the following main elements that can be seen as steps in an iterative implementation cycle:     • Identify the ecosystem

     • Describe the ecosystem
     • Set ecological objectives
     • Assess the ecosystem
     • Value the ecosystem
     • Manage human activities

Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) represent the appropriate and primary units for applying the ecosystem approach to management of the marine environment recognizing that it accommodates management at other spatial scales. The LMEs offer a framework for doing this in a structured manner from both scientific and management perspectives. The overall state and integrity of the ecosystem is a reflection of the status of species and habitats and their interactions at all appropriate scales within the LME.

Click here to view or download the Concept Paper from the PAME website.

Click here for more information about the ecosystem approach.

The Arctic Marine Tourism Project (AMTP) Workshop Report has been published on the PAME webpage. 

In broad terms the AMTP is attempting to identify issues or gaps where the Arctic Council can add value by articulating best practices in relation to vessel-based Arctic tourism. In undertaking this project PAME seeks to produce a best practices document that:

1) avoids duplication by being aware of existing guidelines and best practices;
2) identifies existing best practices while also determining any practical problem areas or actual issues requiring some resolution;
3) takes into account regional variations, categories of tourist/vessel operations, various stakeholder perspectives, and practical usability of a best practices document; and
4) considers the intended audience(s) for development of best practices.

The workshop advanced understanding on all these matters and generated a solid basis for further work on the AMTP.

           Click here to access the report

Call for experts - AMAP

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The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) has launched a call for experts to our Arctic Council project “Adaptations Actions for a Changing Arctic – AACA”. 

Call for nominations of experts to take part in an AMAP project. Request for climate, environmental, socio-economic, and adaptation policy experts as Lead Authors and Contributing Authors for a scientific study of the Bering/Beaufort/Chukchi region.

The letter has been uploaded to our website at this link or can be downloaded here.