Arctic Ocean - U.S.


Protecting the US Arctic

The Pew Charitable Trusts' work in the U.S. Arctic involves Arctic peoples, scientists, conservationists and others to develop lasting conservation solutions so that future generations will be able to experience the Arctic.

The Arctic has always captured the public’s imagination. This vast region is shaped by seasonal extremes. Months of winter darkness with sub-zero temperatures give way to the midnight sun and a fleeting summer when a burst of biological productivity supports flourishing populations of fish and wildlife.

Arctic waters sustain more than 150 species of fish, including ecologically important populations of Arctic cod, Pacific herring, Pacific sand lance, Arctic flounder, and several types of cisco and whitefish. These fish, along with crabs, mollusks and krill, provide the foundation of the Arctic marine food web, which supports globally significant populations of polar bears, walruses, ice seals and bowhead, beluga and gray whales, along with vast numbers of seabirds and other migratory waterfowl.

Climate change and improperly regulated industrial development jeopardize the future of the Arctic marine environment. The rapid melting of pack ice is fundamentally altering natural systems and permitting new access for commercial fishingoffshore oil and gas development and industrial shipping. To prevent irreparable damage to the health of these unique ecosystems, precautionary, science-based principles must be in place before industrial development in the Arctic proceeds. 

Learn more about some of science- and community-based solutions that Pew's work in the U.S. Arctic is striving toward:

Arctic Fishery Management Plan: In August 2009, the Obama administration approved this plan closing nearly the entire U.S. Arctic Ocean to commercial fishing until scientific research demonstrates that such activities will not harm the fragile ecosystem or local communities. The Alaska fishing industry, community leaders and conservation groups support the moratorium.

U.S. Arctic Comprehensive Conservation & Energy Plan: Large swaths of the U.S. Chukchi and Beaufort Seas have been made available for leasing to oil companies, and seismic exploration and other activities are rapidly increasing there. These decisions have been made without a sufficient scientific understanding of their potential effects or a comprehensive plan for Arctic resources. A short window of opportunity exists to plan for development in a rational, science-based manner that integrates local and traditional knowledge.