AS9: Biodiversity in the high seas of the Central Arctic Ocean: Advancements in scientific understanding and future management

Date: Wednesday October 10, 2018

Location: Valtuustosali, City Hall

Time: 10:30-12:00

The high seas region of the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO) is a remote area characterized by significant extent of multi-year sea ice which has existed for millennia. The current warming trend and the resulting reduction of sea ice cover from the CAO have signaled an emerging need to improve our understanding of its understudied ecosystems and to explore management options to protect this area from future anthropogenic pressures. Recent international scientific and policy cooperation on the CAO have led to opportunities to improve our understanding of its ecosystems and biodiversity. In particular, negotiations on a legally-binding Agreement to Prevent Unregulated Fishing in the High Seas of the Central Arctic Ocean. In support of these negotiations, meetings of Scientific Experts on Fish Stocks in the CAO have taken place to review the state of the knowledge on fish and invertebrate species and to develop plans for fishery research using an ecosystem-based approach. In addition, a working group of the Arctic Council has been working with regional science bodies to complete an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment of the CAO. This session will address these topics and their relevance for integrated, ecosystem based management of the region.

Chairs: Maya Gold, Fisheries and Oceans Canada; 

Format: Series of presentations followed by discussion


  1. The CAO Fishing Agreement: Negotiations and next steps: Maya Gold, Fisheries and Oceans Canada pdf
  2. Scientific cooperation in the central Arctic Ocean: TBC 
  3. The Central Arctic Ocean Integrated Assessment: Informing Ecosystem-based Management: Hein Rune Skjoldal, Institute of Marine Research pdf
  4. Ecosystem-Based Management in the Central Arctic Ocean: Henry Huntington, Pew Charitable Trusts pdf
  5. Implications of the UN high seas negotiations on the CAO: David VanderZwaag, Dalhousie University



Ecosystem-Based Management in the Central Arctic Ocean

Olga Romanenko, Pew Charitable Trusts; Henry Huntington, Ocean Conservancy

The 2017 Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean commits its signatories to an ecosystem-based approach to management. An important component of this effort is developing an international scientific research and monitoring program to support the policy objectives of the agreement. The central Arctic Ocean is remote and, for most of the year, ice-covered, making research there expensive and technologically challenging. No nation is likely to bear all the costs necessary to study the region, and few nations have enough ice-capable research vessels to do so even if they wanted to. Therefore, international cooperation will be necessary. All the signatories to the agreement have active Arctic Ocean research programs. A transparent mechanism for data sharing, research coordination, and assessing the status of fish stocks and ecosystem health for the central Arctic Ocean will do a great deal to foster continued international cooperation in policy as well as science. This presentation addresses the practical needs for international cooperation to carry out ecosystem-based management in the Arctic, as part of a precautionary international agreement, and as an example of what can be achieved through commitment to the principles and recommendations of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment.


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