Changing food availability, loss of ice habitat, increases in contagious diseases, and the impending invasion of southern species are taking their toll on Arctic marine animals, and pointing to an ecosystem on the verge of a shift, says new report released by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) and the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council.

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Environment on Verge of Major Shift

The State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report identifies trends in key marine species and points to important gaps in biodiversity monitoring efforts across key ecosystem components in: sea ice biota, plankton, benthos, marine fishes, seabirds and marine mammals. Changes in these species are likely to indicate changes in the overall marine environment.

The two Arctic Council Working Groups also presented the Arctic Invasive Alien Species (ARIAS) Strategy and Action Plan. This plan sets forth the priority actions that the Arctic Council and its partners are encouraged to take to protect the Arctic region from a significant threat: the adverse impacts of invasive alien species.

In the third report on Arctic Protected Areas that was presented to the Arctic Council at the Fairbanks ministerial meeting, CAFF and PAME state that protected areas in the Arctic have doubled since 1980, with 4.6% of the marine and 20.2% of the terrestrial environment, or 11.4% of the total Arctic (3.7 million km2) achieving protected areas status under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories. The UN Aichi Biodiversity Target is to, by 2020, conserve 17% of terrestrial and inland water and to conserve 10% of coastal and marine areas by the same year.

Introduction to the State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report