SAO meets in Whitehorse for final gathering under Canadian Chairmanship March 2-5, 2015
ARCTIC COUNCIL OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS UPDATE, MARCH 2015
- In 2014 Canada took the lead in conducting the first exercise in implementing the 2013 Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution agreement by testing and updating the information and procedures for notifying agencies in other Arctic countries of a major oil spill and requesting assistance. During the upcoming two years of the U.S. Council chairship the U.S. Coast Guard will request each Arctic state to identify its two highest risk oil spill scenarios and conduct a second exercise based on one of the scenarios identified. The U.S. is also taking the lead in inventorying the types of equipment and materials held by each country that may be available for assisting others in responding to a major oil spill in Arctic waters.
- The Arctic Council’s Working Group on Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response has proposed a Circumpolar Oil Spill Gap Analysis to assess the extent to which Arctic conditions may inhibit or absolutely prevent oil spill response operations in particular locales and particular seasons, provide a common, Arctic-wide framework for assessing risks.
- Led by the Aleut International Association, Inuit Circumpolar Conference and the Saami Council, Arctic Council working groups are developing a project to identify best practices for agencies, industries and others in engaging Indigenous and local communities in decisions that may affect them and the Arctic environment. Also under consideration is updating those sections of the 2009 Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines dealing with the environmental monitoring of operations, waste management, discharges of chemicals and air emissions.
- The Arctic Council Task Force on Oil Pollution Prevention has completed most of its work in drafting a Framework Plan for Cooperation on Prevention of Oil Pollution from Petroleum and Maritime Activities in the Marine Areas of the Arctic and hopes to present the document at the April 2015 meeting of the Arctic foreign ministers. The document is weaker than many Arctic Council Observers, including the CCU and World Wildlife Fund, believe is needed, but it is hoped that it will nevertheless lead to worthwhile exchanges of information.
Board Member Jim Ayers Reports:
The recent announcement of President Obama of his Withdrawal of Certain Areas of the United States Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Alaska from Leasing Disposition is a clear indication that voices of conservation and sustainable management of Arctic are being heard.
The announcement of withdrawals was followed by Interior Department announcement of stricter guidelines and regulation of offshore drilling in the Arctic waters. Among other protective measures the US is requiring that response capabilities include an additional drilling rig be available in the area for any necessary call for a relief well.
This hopefully portends well for a paradigm of Arctic conservation measures to be addressed by Arctic Council as US the assumes the Chair.
Meanwhile the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is moving forward through it’s Ecosystem Committee to develop a Fisheries Ecosystem Plan for the Bering Sea, Americas most productive Large Marine Ecosystem. This could be another terrific step forward in setting backdrop for Arctic Council discussions.
and will move on efforts to insure that the Arctic takes center stage in discussions, actions, and allocations that follow in the UN and global context of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 21st Century.”
HEALTHY OCEANS AND SEAS: A WAY FORWARD
An open discussion among world leaders, UN Permanent
Representatives, financial institutions and civil society.
LONG-TERM WARMING AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE PERSIST IN THE ARCTIC
Marine fishes and black carbon new additions to the Arctic Report Card
San Francisco, USA —Though not as extreme as last year, the Arctic continues to show evidence of a shift to a new warmer, greener state in 2013, according to the Arctic Report Card, an annual report that details Arctic change released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna’s Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme (CBMP) led the development of the Arctic Report Card’s terrestrial and marine ecosystem chapters, which detail changes in plants, birds, benthos, fish, mammals and other species. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) coordinated scientific review. One hundred forty-seven authors from 14 countries contributed to the peer-reviewed report.
Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF)