Reports Assess Status, Protection and Threats to Arctic Marine Environment
UN Photo/Mark Garten
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In conjunction with the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, released three reports discussing the state of marine biodiversity, protection and invasive species in the region.

Each of the three reports address targets and priorities laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

11 May 2017: In conjunction with the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council, released three reports discussing marine biodiversity, environmental protection and invasive species in the region. The Ministerial Meeting was held in Fairbanks, Alaska, US, from 10-11 May 2017.

A report titled ‘State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report’ looks at trends in key marine species and highlights gaps in biodiversity monitoring in critical ecosystems. It focuses on: sea ice biota, plankton, benthos, marine fishes, seabirds and marine mammals, as changes in the outlook for these species likely indicates overall marine environmental change, according to the report.

Many of the publication’s conclusions relate to the loss of Arctic sea ice and rising temperatures. The publication asserts that many Arctic species are losing food resources and that ecosystems are undergoing pressure from cumulative changes in their physical, chemical and biological environment. Species reliant on sea ice will experience range reductions. The report concludes that some species are shifting their ranges northwards, and southern species are moving into the Arctic due to warming conditions, which is also increasing contagious disease and opening opportunities for the introduction of invasive alien species (IAS).

Another report, titled ‘Arctic Invasive Alien Species,’ was produced by CAFF in conjunction with the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Groups. The publication introduces the ‘Arctic Invasive Alien Species (ARIAS) Strategy and Action Plan,’ which informs the Arctic Council and partners of steps to prevent impacts from IAS. The publication documents several case studies and features an action plan to: inspire urgent and effective action; improve the knowledge base for well-informed decision making; and undertake prevention and early detection/rapid response initiatives.

A third report, also produced by CAFF and PAME, discusses the protection of the Arctic environment. Titled ‘Arctic Protected Areas Indicators Report,’ the publication is based on data submitted by each of the Arctic Council member States to update the Protected Areas Database and serves as an inventory of protected areas across the region. According to a press release on the report, “protected areas in the Arctic have doubled since 1980, with 4.6% of the marine and 20.2% of the terrestrial environment, or 11.4% of the total Arctic (3.7 million km2) achieving protected areas status under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories.”

Each of the three reports address targets and priorities laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi Biodiversity Targets. One Aichi Target calls for the conservation of 17% of terrestrial and inland water and to conserve 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. IAS, protected areas, as well as ecosystem and species preservation are addressed under SDG 14 on life below water and SDG 15 on life on land.

The next Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting, which occurs biannually, will be held in October 2017 in Oulu, Finland. [Arctic Protected Areas Indicators Report] [Arctic Invasive Alien Species] [State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report] [Arctic Council Website] [Reports Webpage] [CAFF Working Group Press Release on Arctic Protected Areas Indicator Report] [CAFF Press Release on Actions to Protect the Arctic from Invasive Alien Species] [ARIAS Strategy and Action Plan] [CAFF Press Release on the State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Arctic Council Ministerial and the Fairbanks Declaration]

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