As the Arctic's ice melts, the world is eyeing the shipping routes and natural resources of the Arctic Ocean.
Governance in the world’s smallest ocean
The Central Arctic Ocean is the world’s smallest ocean and is surrounded by Eurasia and North America. As sea ice declines dramatically, many governments are eager to take advantage of the shipping routes and natural resources available in this vulnerable region.Read more
Why it matters
How we work
Whales depend on sound to survive. WWF is working to limit sound pollution in Arctic waters by making parts of the ocean important for whales off limits to particularly loud industrial activities.
For more than a decade, WWF has worked to stop offshore oil and gas development that threatens the wildlife and local communities that thrive in the Arctic’s often brutal environment.
WWF has engaged international experts to advise on how the Arctic Ocean might be better regulated, and participates in an Arctic Council Task Force on Marine cooperation.
As the Arctic sea ice diminishes, shipping through the Bering Strait region will increase. WWF is working with partners to protect marine resources from the threat of shipwrecks and related oil spills, invasive species, ship strikes, and pollution.
WWF is working in Norway to make areas such as Lofoten permanently off limits to oil drilling, because of the natural values of the region, and the economic value of the local fishery.
WWF was part of a group that presented the British government with ideas for a set of principles that could govern the work of the UK government, and UK companies in the Arctic.
In Greenland, WWF advocates for sustainable hunting quotas to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations.
WWF is working with partners to protect Bristol Bay’s unmatched salmon runs and biodiversity through science and advocacy.
Increasing demand for Greenlandic resources means ship traffic is likely to grow significantly over the next few decades. WWF advises on the risks and engages communities and governments in discussions about best practices for shipping and marine spatial planning.
WWF has mapped the enormous potential reach of an oil spill in the Barents Sea.
WWF is advancing ideas and tools to create more sustainable investment and development in the Arctic.
WWF has created maps and posters for Canadian ships in the Arctic to help mariners identify and avoid marine mammals.
WWF supports the work of the Norwegian Polar Institute, which is tracking rare bowhead whales near Svalbard.
WWF supports a multi-partner research project with local Inuit communities, fitting satellite radio-transmitters to narwhals to investigate seasonal movements, key staging and wintering habitats, dive depths and diets.
WWF works with Arctic fisheries and fishery management units in the Barents, Bering and Okhotsk seas to promote and support their MSC certification, encourage policy and innovation to introduce ecosystem based management, reduce IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing practices, and to reduce the collateral damage of fisheries bycatch and protect vulnerable bottom habitats.
Meet the team
Global demand for goods continues to grow while Arctic summer sea ice is shrinking: Arctic shipping is heating up.
The Arctic could hold some of the world's largest remaining untapped oil and gas reserves. Sustainability must be prioritized over exploitation in the Arctic because the implications are global.