Vast Arctic Potential Identified In WWF Report


Sustainable Development Can Help Preserve Biodiversity As Region Undergoes Drastic Change

OTTAWA:  As climate change alters the Arctic Ocean, opening the newly accessible region to an estimated C$1.3 trillion in investments in coming decades, a new World Wildlife Fund report provides recommendations for developing resources and economies to ensure long-term economic and ecosystem health for both the Arctic and the planet.

Getting it right in a new ocean: Bringing Sustainable Blue Economy principles to the Arctic, from WWF’s international Arctic Programme, draws from lessons learned elsewhere in the world on how the principles of a Blue Economy – one that provides social and economic benefits for current and future generations, that restores and maintains the diversity and productivity of marine ecosystems, and one that is based on clean technologies and circular material flows – can be applied to this “new ocean.”

The Arctic is home to 34 species of marine mammals, 633 species of fish and 4 million people including Indigenous peoples and communities.

Without proper policies in place, the Arctic’s vulnerable coasts and marine species will increasingly come into conflict with industrial activities – such as shipping and seismic exploration – and may be harmed by invasive species, underwater noise and oil spills.

WWF is calling on the investment community, industry and governments to take a precautionary approach to the immense economic opportunities emerging in the Arctic.

  Recommendations include:

• Carefully consider and prioritize climate change risks when investing.

• Preserve biodiversity in a warmer Arctic.

• Fully integrate Arctic research and Indigenous knowledge in decision-making processes.

• Focus on renewable resources to diversify Arctic economies.

• Apply ecosystems-based management in the Arctic marine environment  and strengthen Arctic governance to ensure sustainable development.

Canada has an opportunity to be a global leader in creating economic growth that doesn’t interfere with biodiversity. Canada will co-host the first-ever Sustainable Blue Economy Conference taking place in Nairobi, Kenya Nov. 26 to 28.

Applying Blue Economy principles in Canada: 

The community of Cape Dorset, Nunavut is examining the possibility of creating the area’s first sustainable, community-driven crab fishery.

Small-scale inshore fisheries in northern communities offer sustainable economic development, allow for the use of more selective and habitat-friendly gear, and ensure that economic and food security benefits stay in communities.

WWF-Canada is working with community members in Cape Dorset on this sustainable fishing project, to determine through scientific assessment the size of the crab population and whether it can support a fishery. Discussions are under way with a second potential partner community in Nunavut.

 Paul Crowley, WWF-Canada’s vice president of Arctic conservation, says:    “As the Arctic warms, sustainable fishing practices will be critical in preserving biodiversity. We are extremely encouraged by the potential for a community-based, inshore fishery in Cape Dorset, which compared with other types of resource extraction such as oil and gas development and mining, will benefit the community, and could become a blueprint for sustainable fisheries for years to come. If properly executed, a locally managed, sustainable fishery could provide substantial economic opportunity at a low environmental cost.”

   Dr. Simon Walmsley, WWF’s international Arctic Programme sustainability director, says:  “Climate change is making the Arctic more accessible than ever before. But the Arctic Ocean remains a remote, and risky place to do business. By starting from a premise of sustainability before massive development begins, we can help prevent the most negative impacts in one of the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems.”

About World Wildlife Fund Canada 

WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit