How we work
© Paul Nicklen / National Geographic Creative / WWF-Canada

Arctic Ocean

As the Arctic's ice melts, the world is eyeing the shipping routes and natural resources of the Arctic Ocean.

Why it matters

90% of goods travel by ship, and Arctic routes are opening up
Vast resources are becoming available
Warming waters bring new challenges
Marine ecosystems transcend political boundaries
A noisier Arctic disrupts marine life
An Arctic Ocean Network of Priority Areas for Conservation

How we work

A quieter ocean for Arctic whales

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.

Addressing offshore drilling

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.

Arctic Ocean regulation

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.

Assessing shipping risk

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.

Keeping oil out of important areas

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.

Promoting good governance

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.

Promoting sustainable quotas

In Greenland, WWF advocates for sustainable hunting quotas to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations.

Protecting America's fishbasket

WWF is working with partners to protect Bristol Bay’s unmatched salmon runs and biodiversity through science and advocacy.

Reducing shipping impacts in Greenland

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.

Reducing the oil spill risk

WWF has mapped the enormous potential reach of an oil spill in the Barents Sea.

Tools for a blue economy

WWF is advancing ideas and tools to create more sustainable investment and development in the Arctic.

Tools for mariners

WWF has created maps and posters for Canadian ships in the Arctic to help mariners identify and avoid marine mammals.

Tracking bowheads

WWF supports the work of the Norwegian Polar Institute, which is tracking rare bowhead whales near Svalbard.

Understanding narwhals

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.

Working with fisheries in Russia

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.


The Circle 01.2022
The Circle 01.2022
17 January 2022
The Circle 03.21
The Circle 03.21
30 September 2021
ArcNet Technical Report
ArcNet Technical Report
11 May 2021
The Circle 04.20
The Circle 04.20
12 January 2021
The Circle 02.20
The Circle 02.20
30 June 2020
The Circle 04.19
The Circle 04.19
3 December 2019
See all 27 publications

Meet the team


Senior Advisor, Arctic and marine


Senior Program Officer, WWF-US Arctic Program


Senior Specialist, Arctic Fisheries

WWF Arctic Coordinating Team

Director, WWF Arctic Programme