The U.S. Arctic Ocean supports unique species found nowhere else in the country and is home to indigenous Inupiat people who have thrived on its bounty for thousands of years. The Pew Charitable Trusts believes that a balance must be struck between responsible economic development and preservation of ecosystem integrity and function in the Arctic Ocean. Safeguarding especially important areas can help the rapidly changing Arctic environment remain healthy, while providing local communities and the businesses that have invested there with more certainty about the future management of the region.
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.