With the Arctic Ocean’s summer sea-ice cover reducing, the North Pole’s unique “floating ice-reef ecosystem” (Hadow, September 2017) is increasingly stressed because the sea ice provides the habitat for this ecosystem.
“Reporting of the environmental issue of sea-ice loss needs now to be less about the geophysical phenomenon of melting sea water … and far more about the potentially catastrophic loss of a unique floating ice-reef habitat and ecosystem which is inextricably linked to the existence of sea ice” (Hadow, September 2017).
But the emerging additional threats resulting from increased access to this newly-created open ocean – for example, from commercial shipping, fishing, tourist cruises and mineral extraction – can be controlled before they even start.
Pen Hadow’s vision is the signing of an international agreement to create a permanently protected conservation area for the wildlife and ecosystem of the Arctic Ocean’s international waters by 2032 (when an existing voluntary, ‘no commercial fishing’ agreement ends).
To deliver the vision, Hadow founded the 90ºNorth Unit (Ltd), an independent, not-for-profit advocacy organisation. Its objective is to catalyse, support and promote the necessary international policy-making process through the United Nations. It involves a 15-year road map of marine research and policy campaigning activity through to 2032.
In autumn 2017 Arctic Mission’s story, research, and images about marine pollution in the Arctic Ocean was used successfully by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in a ‘Save Our Seas Act’ debate in the US Senate to successfully recover funding for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) marine debris research programme.