Oceans North - Protecting Life in the Arctic

The vast Arctic region encompasses 17 percent of the globe and is home to 30 different indigenous groups, four million residents and some of the planet’s least disturbed large marine ecosystems. Life in the Arctic has been shaped for thousands of years by the ability to adapt to this land of perpetual ice and snow.

Climate change is rapidly melting the Arctic’s sea ice, fundamentally altering both human communities and natural systems. The retreating ice is not only restructuring Arctic ecosystems, it is also permitting new industrial access for commercial fishing, offshore energy and commercial shipping on a scale never seen before.

To protect life in the Arctic, we must first and foremost work to lower carbon emissions that are the major cause of global warming. This will take a concerted global effort. At the same time, we must build conservation solutions that address the impact of climate change in the Arctic.

This historic threat to the Arctic also presents an opportunity. Pew initiated Oceans North to promote science and community-based stewardship of North America’s Arctic Ocean and the resulting well-being of indigenous residents who rely upon its natural wealth.

Working with indigenous communities and Arctic residents in Canada and the United States, Oceans North promotes science-based policies consistent with indigenous land claims and traditional practices in the following areas:  sustainable commercial fishing, environmentally responsible offshore hydrocarbon development and oil spill standards and appropriate Arctic shipping safety rules.

For more information, please visit: www.oceansnorth.org


  • New Report on Food Security in Northern Canada Cites Need to Protect Environment

    Mar 27, 2014 - A report on food security in northern Canada, released today by the Council of Canadian Academies, highlights the importance of a healthy marine environment in sustaining traditional diets for Inuit and Aboriginal peoples, says Henry Huntington, The Pew Charitable Trusts' Arctic science director.

  • Arctic Standards: Recommendations on Oil Spill Prevention, Response, and Safety in the U.S. Arctic Ocean

    Jan 28, 2014 - The search for oil is reaching into ever more remote corners of the world, including the U.S. Arctic Ocean. Industrial development in these waters brings a new set of challenges and a larger set of risks than in other oceans because people and equipment must work in some of the harshest and most remote conditions on the planet.

  • Traditional Knowledge and the Arctic Environment

    Aug 27, 2013 - The study of the Arctic ecosystem is no easy task, despite the great advances in science and the wide array of new observational tools on land, sea, air, and space. Understanding the changing dynamics of weather and climate on the region’s flora and fauna also requires deep, on-the-ground information. Traditional knowledge, which is passed down from generation to generation by the longtime inhabitants of the Arctic, is an important part of our collective understanding.

  • More Science Needed to Protect U.S. Arctic Ocean

    Sep 26, 2011 - The Pew Environment Group and Ocean Conservancy commissioned Dr. Robert Spies to convene independent Arctic experts to review the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Circular 1370: An Evaluation of the Science Needs to Inform Decisions on Outer Continental Shelf Energy Development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska.

  • Becoming Arctic-Ready

    Sep 09, 2011 - A report by the Pew Environment Group concludes that Canada’s system of regulating and licensing offshore oil and gas development requires major reforms to create an Arctic-ready future to protect this region and its people from environmental harm

  • Ship's Log: Arctic Whale Survey

    Jun 20, 2011 - From the deck of a 45-foot, ice-reinforced trawler, expedition members will observe narwhal, belugas and bowhead whales – the first time on record that a boat this size has attempted this journey so early in the spring. During the month-long voyage from Greenland, two scientists and an Inuk hunter will be part of a team collecting important new data about Arctic whales and seabirds.

  • Oil Spill Prevention and Response in the U.S. Arctic Ocean: Unexamined Risks, Unacceptable Consequences

    Nov 10, 2010 - This report examine the risks, challenges and potential consequences of oil spills associated with oil and gas exploration and production in the outer continental shelf (OCS) of the United States Arctic Ocean.

  • Arctic Treasure: Global Assets Melting Away

    Feb 05, 2010 - While many studies have examined the mechanisms by which the frozen Arctic and global climate are interrelated, this report, "An Initial Estimate of the Cost of Lost Climate Regulation Services Due to Changes in the Arctic Cryosphere," is the first attempt to estimate the dollar cost of global warming brought about by shrinking ice, snow and permafrost.

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Oil and Gas Leasing in the U.S. Arctic

This full-page ad ran in the Washington Post on Tuesday, June 8 thanking President Obama and Secretary Salazar for their decision to suspend exploratory drilling this summer in the Arctic Ocean.


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An advertisement from the Pew Environment Group about the potential dangers of exploratory drilling for oil in the Arctic.

Oil Rig Fire

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An advertisement co-sponsored by the Pew Environment Group and others urges deferral of oil and gas drilling off the north coast of Alaska until scientific study can show that it will be environmentally safe.

Arctic Ad

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An advertisement calls on President Obama to defer large-scale oil and gas leasing in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off the northern coast of Alaska.

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