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OSPAR Commission Meeting in Oostende (Belgium)
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Written by Federica   
Monday, 29 June 2015 08:40

Map on MPAa, EEZa, Outer limits of continental shelves (as submitted to CLCS) in the Northeast Atlantic Map by Ospar)Map on MPAa, EEZa, Outer limits of continental shelves (as submitted to CLCS) in the Northeast Atlantic Map by Ospar)OSPAR has released the following press release after the Commission meeting in in Oostende (Belgium), last 26 June. 

Here the press release: 

This week saw the meeting of the OSPAR Commission in Oostende (Belgium).

One of the key steps forward in protecting the North-East Atlantic was the adoption of Recommendations to protect and conserve a further three species and one habitat identified by OSPAR as being particularly vulnerable within the North-East Atlantic. The Allis Shad, Azorean Limpet, Sea Lamprey and Intertidal Mussel Beds all saw their protection extended. The meeting also agreed to adopt guidelines to reduce the impact of offshore installation lighting on birds in the OSPAR maritime area.

Continued cooperation between OSPAR and the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission to ensure the conservation of particular areas in the high seas was also welcomed. This ground-breaking arrangement sees both organisations work within their mandates to protect the unique ecosystems found in the mid-Atlantic.

OSPAR also announced that its network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) now comprises 413 MPAs. This amounts to the protection of nearly 6% of the OSPAR Maritime Area and puts the OSPAR area far ahead of the global average of 2.8%(1).

The 2014 Status Report on the OSPAR Network of Marine Protected Areas showed that last year alone a further 77 MPAs covering more than 89 397 km2 were added to the OSPAR Network of MPAs, showing OSPAR's continued commitment to creating a network of MPAs that is ecologically coherent and well managed.

Further successes of the meeting saw the finalisation of plans for OSPAR's Intermediate Assessment 2017 which will evaluate the quality status of the North-East Atlantic and take forward OSPAR's vision of a clean, healthy and biologically diverse sea. The Commission also reflected on its enhanced cooperation with the Abidjan Convention.

Mr Victor Escobar (Spain), Chairman of the OSPAR Commission said that OSPAR delegates should "take time to celebrate the successes of the Commission" before going on to remind delegates that they should be " proud of the solid foundation of intergovernmental trust and cooperation for which the OSPAR Commission is known". He then reminded delegates that continued cooperation and commitment was vital to the health, enjoyment and economic prosperity of the North-East Atlantic and welcomed the remit agreed to closer cooperation with the Arctic Council.


Note for editors

1. The OSPAR Commission was set up by the 1992 OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic, which unified and updated the 1972 Oslo and 1974 Paris Conventions. It brings together the governments of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, together with the European Community.

2. More than 30 international non-governmental organisations are involved in OSPAR as official Observers. They represent a broad range of interests and expertise related to the marine environment and the uses of marine resources. Many contribute information, insights and standpoints. This is much appreciated feedback from civil society and the economy. The OSPAR Commission greatly values these partnerships that help inform its decisions and other results. (See list on OSPAR)

3. The Bergen Statement was adopted at the third Ministerial Meeting of the OSPAR Commission in 2010 in Bergen, Norway.a

4. The 4 marine habitats and species protected in these recommendations bring the total list to 37 species and 15 habitats including those agreed at previous OSPAR meetings. The 4 added to the list today are:

SPECIES; Azorean limpet (Patella aspera), sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), Allis shad (Alosa alosa)

HABITAT; intertidal Mytilus edulis beds on mixed and sandy sediments

5. The Abidjan Convention for Cooperation in the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Atlantic Coast of the West, Central and Southern Africa Region (Abidjan Convention in short), it covers a marine area from Mauritania to South Africa which has a coastline of just over 14,000 km. The Convention provides an overarching legal framework for all marine-related programmes in West, Central and Southern Africa.

6. The North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) is the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) for the North East Atlantic, one of the most abundant fishing areas in the world. The area covered by the NEAFC Convention stretches from the southern tip of Greenland, east to the Barents Sea, and south to Portugal. NEAFC's objective is to ensure the long-term conservation and optimum utilisation of the fishery resources in the Convention Area, providing sustainable economic, environmental and social benefits. To this end, NEAFC adopts management measures for various fish stocks and control measures to ensure that they are properly implemented. NEAFC also adopts measures to protect other parts of the marine ecosystem from potential negative impacts of fisheries.


Source: OSPAR (

New IPA website is now online!
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Written by Federica   
Friday, 26 June 2015 11:46

IPA home pageIPA home pageArctic Portal has now launched the new website for the International Permafrost Association (IPA).The IPA, founded in 1983, has as its objectives to foster the dissemination of knowledge concerning permafrost and to promote cooperation among persons and national or international organizations engaged in scientific investigation and engineering work on permafrost. Membership is through adhering national or multinational organizations or as individuals in countries where no Adhering Body exists. The IPA is governed by its officers and a Council consisting of representatives from 26 Adhering Bodies having interests in some aspect of theoretical, basic and applied frozen ground research, including permafrost, seasonal frost, artificial freezing and periglacial phenomena. Committees, Working Groups, and Task Forces organize and coordinate research activities and special projects.

The new version, fully developed and renewed by Arctic Portal is responsive, meaning that it can be view from all devices, as smartphones, tablets and of course PCs. 

Yacutia: Indigenous People prevent Diamond Mining in the Sacred River
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Written by Federica   
Friday, 26 June 2015 09:26

Siberian Taiga(photo: Elkwiki/commonswiki, wikipedia)Siberian Taiga(photo: Elkwiki/commonswiki, wikipedia)Evenk are an indigenous community in the republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in Russia's far east. As described by "The Red Book of the People of Russia"  "the Evenks inhabit a huge territory of the Siberian taiga from the River Ob in the west to the Okhotsk Sea in the east, and from the Arctic Ocean in the north, to Manchuria and Sakhalin in the south". 

The Association of Indigenous Peoples of Sakha Republic (Yakutia), has reported the news (in Russian) that the Evenk community has eventually managed to stop the mining company "Almazy Anbara" from starting a diamond mine on their sacred river. As reported by the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Yakutia, Yakutia's Minister of nature protection of Sakhamin Afanasyev, announced the denial of a license to the company at a parliamentary session on 16 June in Yakutsk.

Earlier this year, at a public hearing held March 23 the inhabitants of Zhilinda village in Olenek Evenki district had voted unanimously against allowing the exploration work along the the sacred river Malaya Kuonapka and its tributary Maspaky. This is the first time for indigenous peoples in Yakutia to halt the issuing of a license to an extractive industries enterprise.

Before this vote, the villagers had approved three of the planned sites and only voted against the fourth. The river is revered by the Evenks as a sacred site. Furthermore, it is their only source of clean drinking water and as an important hunting and fishing site.

(Source:The Association of Indigenous Peoples of Sakha Republic)

2015 Sea Ice Outlook - June Report now Available
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Written by Federica   
Thursday, 25 June 2015 14:18

Arctic Sea Ice. The light blue area represents summer sea-ice extent in 2013, while the dark blue the winter ice-extent in 2013. The dark pink line is the median summer ice extent 1981-2010, the light pink is the median winter ice extent 1981-2010 (map: Arctic Portal)  Arctic Sea Ice. The light blue area represents summer sea-ice extent in 2013, while the dark blue the winter ice-extent in 2013. The dark pink line is the median summer ice extent 1981-2010, the light pink is the median winter ice extent 1981-2010 (map: Arctic Portal) The 2015 Sea Ice Outlook June Report is now available online. This June Outlook report was developed by lead authors, Cecilia Bitz (UW), Ed Blanchard-Wrigglesworth (UW), and Jim Overland (NOAA), with contributions from the rest of the SIPN leadership team, and with a section analyzing the model contributions by François Massonnet, Université catholique de Louvain and Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences.

The median Outlook value for September 2015 sea ice extent is 5.0 million square kilometers with quartiles of 4.4 and 5.2 million square kilometers. Contributions are based on a range of methods: statistical, numerical models, estimates based on trends, and subjective information. We have a large spread in the Outlook contributions, which is not surprising given the wide-ranging observed values for the September extent in the past few years. The overall range (excluding an extreme outlier) is 3.3 to 5.7 million square kilometers. The median Outlook value is up from 4.7 million square kilometers in 2014. These values compare to observed values of 4.3 million square kilometers in 2007, 4.6 million square kilometers in 2011, 3.6 million square kilometers in 2012 and 5.3 million square kilometers in 2014.

A discussion of 11 dynamical model contributions shows that the variance among the individual outlooks is substantially less than last year and as a whole, dynamic models predict a larger September sea ice extent with less spread than for 2014. A section on regional predictions includes discussion on predictions for sea ice probability (SIP), showing that higher SIP is predicted in 2015 than in 2014 in the Beaufort and East Greenland seas, while smaller SIP is predicted along the East Siberian and Kara Seas. Finally, a section on current conditions includes discussion of this spring's rate of decline of ice extent, a comparison of sea ice thickness products, and atmospheric conditions.


Read the full report here

Arctic Cooperation, the view of the UArctic's President Lars Kullerud
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Written by Federica   
Tuesday, 23 June 2015 09:57

Lars Kullerud, President of UArctic (photo: Facebook)Lars Kullerud, President of UArctic(photo: Facebook)Today we share the letter by the UArctic's President, Lars Kullerud, on the foremost importance to maintain cooperation and keep an open dialogue in Arctic. As the UArctic's President point out, despite the current geopolitical insucurity worldwide is affecting somehow also the Arctic region, the Arctic states have both the resources and instruments for cooperation, and their peoples have the will. The letter reported here was publish on "Shared Voices Magazine 2015", an annual publication by the UArctic, available for the public online here.

What everybody can be absolutely certain of is the Soviet Union's profound and certain interest in preventing the North of the planet, its Polar and sub-Polar regions and all Northern countries from ever again becoming an arena of war, and in forming there a genuine zone of peace and fruitful cooperation. (Mikhail Gorbachev, "Murmansk Initiative Speech", Oct 1, 1987)

The foundations of the current framework of international cooperation in the Arctic – perhaps most clearly manifested in the Arctic Council and other circumpolar organizations like the University of the Arctic (UArctic) – can be traced to a speech by then Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Murmansk in 1987. In his speech, Gorbachev called for the Arctic to be established as an international 'zone of peace' and called on the Arctic states and other regional actors to cooperate on issues of scientific research and environmental protection. This call was taken up through the Rovaniemi Process in 1991 that established the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, which in turn resulted in the creation of the Arctic Council in 1996. The International Arctic Science Committee was created in 1990 as part of the same process. UArctic, founded in 2001, and the Arctic Economic Council, founded in 2014, were both established on the initiative of the Arctic Council to complement its functions.

Those of us engaged in international cooperation in the Arctic have now enjoyed 25 years of active collaboration with our Russian colleagues and friends – a situation we now consider completely normal, but that was extremely rare during the Cold War. The region and the world as a whole have benefited from this cooperation as evidenced in the drive behind the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), the focus on the role of the Arctic in global climate change, the unique position of indigenous peoples in the Arctic Council, regional demilitarization, coastal state cooperation through the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and joint ambitions for the safe and fair transportation and resource utilization.

The Arctic states have both the resources and instruments for cooperation, and their peoples have the will. The wise stewardship of the North will benefit not just the Arctic but the whole world, and we can also be an important inspiration to others globally. This is particularly the case now, at a time when humankind needs to find a new way forward for future generations and the healthy stewardship of this unique planet.

Even as geopolitical insecurity elsewhere in the world creates tensions that influence the Arctic, we have continued with 'business as usual'– not because we are ignorant of threats to cooperation, but precisely because of them. Our best way to ensure mutual understanding and focus on common interests is to maintain cooperation and keep an open dialogue. Through UArctic we have strived to create a common Arctic region and circumpolar identity among researchers, students and leaders. We will work with business and regional and national governments to ensure that the generation leading the Arctic in 2030 does not have to start over, but can continue on a platform of mutual understanding and partnership.

(Source: UArctic)

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