Environmental Initiatives

Our Goals

Oceans North works closely with indigenous communities to promote science-based conservation that reduces potential risks to the Arctic Ocean from climate change and industrial development. Our marine conservation efforts focus on offshore oil and gas activities, commercial fishing and industrial shipping.

Oceans North U.S.

  • Defer offshore oil development in the U.S. Arctic Ocean until a precautionary, science-based plan is in place to protect local communities and marine ecosystems from the risks of drilling.
  • Permanently protect the ecologically rich Bristol Bay and its world-class fisheries in the southeast Bering Sea from offshore oil and gas development.
  • Maintain a precautionary fishery management plan that prohibits all commercial fishing in the U.S. Arctic Ocean until scientific research demonstrates that such activities will not harm the fragile ecosystem or subsistence way of life.

Oceans North Canada

  • Create a large National Marine Conservation Area in Lancaster Sound to protect this biologically rich area and the Inuit communities that rely on it.
  • Develop a fisheries management plan in the Canadian Beaufort Sea that would close the region to commercial fishing while scientists and the Inuvialuit determine whether and how such activities could occur without harming the Arctic ecosystem or those who depend on it.
  • Undertake an ecosystem study of Baffin Bay that will lead to a sustainable fishing plan and prevent destructive practices. This plan would respect traditional Inuit activities and protect marine mammals, cold-water corals and sensitive habitats from commercial fishing while providing jobs and fishing income.

Oceans North International

  • Work towards a new fisheries agreement for the international waters of the central Arctic Ocean–known as the Arctic "donut hole"–to prevent the introduction of commercial fisheries until scientific research and conservation measures show such activities can be conducted sustainably and without harming the ecosystem.

Campaign Progress

  • National Marine Park in Lancaster Sound Moves Forward Added: Dec. 6, 2010

    In December 2010, Canada’s environment minister took a major step towards protecting Lancaster Sound by proposing boundaries for the Arctic’s first national marine conservation area that would encompass almost 45,000 square kilometers – or twice the size of Lake Erie. Inuit leaders and Oceans North Canada welcomed the federal minister’s announcement and his confirmation that no new seismic testing or oil and gas exploration will take place during development of the national marine park.  Inuit communities and Oceans North Canada worked together in 2010 to block oil-related seismic testing in the Sound because of concerns such activities could harm migrating narwhal and other whales. Once the park is formally established, no oil and gas development, ocean dumping or undersea mining will be allowed in the Sound.

  • Oil-Related Seismic Testing Stopped in Lancaster Sound Added: Aug. 8, 2010

    In summer 2010, the campaign worked with Inuit groups to question the federal government’s plans for oil-related seismic testing in Lancaster Sound. Local Inuit opposed the testing because they were not properly consulted and believed it posed risks for narwhal and bowhead whales migrating through the Sound. More than 10,000 Canadians signed a letter sent by Oceans North Canada to Prime Minister Stephen Harper protesting the seismic testing. In August 2010, the Qiqkitani Inuit Association obtained a court injunction that prevented the seismic work from taking place.

    • Arctic Offshore Drilling Delayed Added: May. 27, 2010

      In March 2010, President Obama decided not to offer new oil and gas leases in 107,812 square miles of the U.S. Arctic Ocean until at least 2012, and ordered reviews of scientific research and oil spill response. The U.S. Arctic Program had called for more time for the affected communities and agencies to study proposed drilling technologies, spill response capabilities and the effects of oil drilling. After the BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil spill began in April 2010, President Obama also suspended all Arctic exploration drilling permits for the rest of the year.

    • Bristol Bay Protected Until 2017 Added: Mar. 31, 2010

      In March 2010, President Obama withdrew Alaska’s Bristol Bay from the national offshore energy plan, protecting the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon run and 52,234 square miles from offshore drilling until 2017. The decision came after the U.S. Arctic Program worked with conservationists, fishermen and Alaska Native communities to raise concerns about the environmental impact of drilling. Under a plan left by the previous administration, 8,750 square miles of Bristol Bay would have been open to oil drilling. 

    • First Steps for Lancaster Sound Added: Dec. 8, 2009

      In December 2009, the federal government signed an agreement with the government of Nunavut and an Inuit organization to work toward a national marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound. The memorandum of understanding between Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the Government of Nunavut and Parks Canada paved the way for a joint feasibility study that will recommend boundaries and management of the marine conservation area. A model will be developed for full participation by Inuit communities in managing the project as is required in the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. If established, Lancaster Sound would be Canada’s first national marine conservation area in the Arctic and offer protection from ocean dumping, undersea mining, and energy exploration and commercial fishing.

      • Arctic Fishery Management Plan Approved Added: Aug. 21, 2009

        In August 2009, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke approved the Arctic Fishery Management Plan that closed nearly 200,000 square miles of the U.S. Arctic Ocean north of the Bering Strait to commercial fishing. Under the precautionary measure, commercial fishing will only be allowed if scientific studies determine that such activities will not damage the ecosystem or local communities’ subsistence way of life. The plan has widespread support from the Alaska commercial fishing industry, fishery managers, conservation groups and Arctic community leaders.

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