Important Marine Areas

Marine life is abundant throughout the Arctic Ocean’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas. But a recent synthesis of the best available science supports the idea that certain areas—often those with distinct physical or oceanographic features—make exceptional contributions to ecosystem function and indigenous peoples’ way of life. These sites have characteristics that make them important migration routes; provide vital habitat for marine mammal breeding, spawning, or foraging; and offer ideal conditions for the microscopic organisms that form the foundation of the marine food web. They are also crucial to the long-term health of the wildlife that are the foundation of subsistence activities important to the spiritual, nutritional, and cultural well-being of the region’s communities.

Setting the most important marine areas aside from oil and gas development is a positive step toward striking a balance between those activities and conservation in the region. This work demands ongoing evaluation, in consultation with local indigenous communities and with scientists, to identify important areas in the U.S. Arctic Ocean that should be exempted from development to promote a healthy, sustainable, and resilient ecosystem for the long term.

Arctic safeguards
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Press Releases & Statements

Pew Expresses Support for Arctic Safeguards

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Press Releases & Statements

Pew Expresses Support for Arctic Safeguards

WASHINGTON—The Pew Charitable Trusts applauds today’s action by the Obama administration to remove the U.S. Arctic Ocean from the 2017-22 Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program.

The Beaufort Sea shelf breaks are hot spot for beluga whales in summer
The Beaufort Sea shelf breaks are hot spot for beluga whales in summer
Speeches & Testimony

Study Identifies U.S. Arctic Marine Areas Essential to Ecosystem Health

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Speeches & Testimony

Pew, in collaboration with Oceana, Audubon Alaska, WWF, and Ocean Conservancy, has created A Synthesis of Important Areas in the U.S. Chukchi and Beaufort Seas: Best Available Data to Inform Management Decisions.

Some specific areas of the U.S. Chukchi and Beaufort seas are especially vital to conservation efforts
Some specific areas of the U.S. Chukchi and Beaufort seas are especially vital to conservation efforts
Issue Brief

A Look at Important Marine Areas in the U.S. Beaufort and Chukchi Seas

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Issue Brief

Sound decision-making about the future of the U.S. Arctic Ocean must include an understanding of how its marine ecosystems function. Although all areas of the U.S. Chukchi and Beaufort seas contribute to ecological integrity, some are especially vital to the health of that ecosystem. An extensive review by The Pew Charitable Trusts and nonprofit partners of the best available Arctic science from government, university, and industry researchers has identified several such important marine areas.

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