Observed Best Practices in Ecosystem-based Oceans Management in the Arctic Countries.
Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)
Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME)
The need for oceans management based on an ecosystem approach is widely recognized by the international community, as reflected in calls for the implementation of the ecosystem approach by 2010 in the 2002 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation from the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), in recommendations from the UN General Assembly, in the work under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and in the 2001 Reykjavik Declaration on Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem. These international commitments have proved particularly important in the Arctic region, where this project represents a collective attempt at demonstrating progress towards the WSSD goals in the region. Many Arctic communities and settlements are based on the sustainable use of natural resources, and see themselves as integrated parts of these ecosystems. The importance of the non-renewable resources is growing, and offshore petroleum developments are expanding to new areas of the Arctic. Likewise, tourism is growing in importance, and with it cruiseship traffic. Other economic developments include expansion of mining, bioprospecting, aquaculture, and marine transportation. At the same time, climate change, increased pollution and other human-induced pressures brings unprecedented rates of change in marine ecosystems. The aggregate effects of these multiple pressures on the oceans call for an ecosystem-based and integrated approach to oceans management. This is critical to the protection and sustainable use of marine ecosystems and the natural resources there. To aid in this process, the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan, which describes the ecosystem approach and calls for its application, was adopted by the Arctic Council in November 2004. Ecosystem-based management is the key principle of the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan. Many countries are now in the process of reviewing and developing their oceans management policies in order to base their management and use of the oceans on ecosystem considerations. In the Arctic, for instance, most countries are working to implement ecosystem-based management of their oceans. The Best Practices in Ecosystem-based Oceans Management project, carried out by the Arctic Council working groups on Sustainable Development and Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment, has observed a number of Best Practices in this regard, which governments may want to consider. These practices have proved useful and may be relevant also to other Arctic countries as well as in the world beyond, in order to provide for sustainable development and protection of the marine environment.