An Arctic Ocean Network of Priority Areas for Conservation

Melting sea ice is transforming the Arctic Ocean. A warming climate and growing industrial development threaten this vulnerable and rapidly changing part of the world. Globally important marine life is increasingly at risk in this unique ecosystem that provides food, livelihoods and cultural identity for people living in the Arctic.

ArcNet – An Arctic Ocean Network of Priority Areas for Conservation – is a network of priority areas for marine conservation that spans the entire Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas. Conserving these ecosystems strengthens the resilience of Arctic biodiversity in the face of a rapidly changing climate. The long-term health of the Arctic’s marine biodiversity contributes to the global well being of nature and people.

ArcNet helps meet ambitious national and international targets to protect and conserve at least 30 per cent of the planet by 2030.

© naturepl.com / Doug Allan / WWF
A Guide to ArcNet
An Arctic Ocean Network of Priority Areas for Conservation
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What is ArcNet?

  • ArcNet is a map that shows the vision for a network of priority areas that governments and communities need to conserve throughout the Arctic Ocean. ArcNet is also a concrete proposal and tool for marine planning and management.
  • The ArcNet-approach first considers the region’s marine ecosystems and how they function, and then suggests the best way forward to support a healthy and biodiverse Arctic.
  • The network is based on comprehensive, rigorous scientific analysis and best-available data that can be accessed through an extensive database of marine life.
  • The approach is transparent and can be reproduced with a set of tools to support open and inclusive cooperation between governments and marine stakeholders as they work together to establish priority areas for conservation.
  • An opportunity for ongoing engagement that establishes, adjusts and manages the network over time as the Arctic and its marine life adapt to rapid change.
© Staffan Widstrand / WWF

The Arctic’s unique ecosystems provide food, livelihoods and cultural identity for the 4 million people living in the region. Maintaining a healthy and diverse web of life in the Arctic, from zooplankton to fish, whales and seabirds, contributes to the well-being of nature and people around the world.

How to help build ArcNet

Arctic governments need to be good stewards of the Arctic Ocean and establish the priority areas for conservation identified by ArcNet. They should apply an inclusive, ArcNet-approach to creating networks of protected and conserved marine areas.
A diversity of perspectives and values needs to be reflected in the network’s design and planning. ArcNet is an opportunity for dialogue and collaboration amongst all the region’s marine stakeholders. To be successful, participation is required from marine scientists, holders of Indigenous knowledge and local knowledge, marine managers, conservation professionals, the marine industry and Arctic peoples in general.
The project will require new data, knowledge and ways to assess the network’s effectiveness in the coming months and years. Industry can also help by developing new guidelines and standards to improve conservation outcomes.

Learn more about how ArcNet works.

What's happening?

© WWF / Henry Harrison

Using both scientific and Indigenous knowledge, the Canadian Arctic Marine Priority Areas for Conservation (CanPAC), identifies priority conservation areas that support the development of a network of Arctic marine protected areas in Canada and connect into a broader pan-Arctic system. WWF-Canada began to examine the protection of areas in the Arctic Basin, Arctic Archipelago, Eastern Arctic and Hudson Bay Complex marine bioregions in 2017.

© Alexei Ebel / WWF-Canon

Since 2014, WWF Russia has worked with marine experts and the Russian Academy of Sciences to identify 47 conservation priority areas in the Russian Arctic seas. The resulting network covers almost 25% of the Russian Arctic seas and guarantees proportional representation of their biodiversity as well as connectivity and sustainability. Priority areas for conservation identified during the analysis will be included in the Federal List of Prospective Protected Areas (2020-2030); and some are already being implemented in the Novosibirskie Islands and parts of the Great Siberian Polynya. There is on-going research on the impact of climate change in these areas and the resilience they can provide.

ArcNet complements the national network and highlights some of the areas as having global Arctic significance.

To become a part of ArcNet, please contact us at ArcNetinfo@arcticwwf.org.

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