Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) is one of six Working Groups of the Arctic Council, and addresses marine policy measures in response to environmental change from both land and sea-based activities.
PAME develops and coordinates strategic plans, programs, assessments and guidelines, complementing existing legal arrangements aimed at protection of the Arctic marine environment.
In 2017, the Nordic Ministers decided to launch a Nordic programme to reduce the environmental impact of plastic pollution in the Arctic. Hence, PAME conducted a Desktop Study on Marine Litter including Microplastics in the Arctic – the first Arctic-wide study on the impacts of plastic pollution. It was the conclusion of this work that highlighted the necessity to create a Regional Action Plan on marine litter in the Arctic.
The Regional Action Plan
Marine litter, particularly when made of plastic, is amongst the most pervasive problems affecting the marine environment globally. Marine litter in the Arctic is a threat not only to marine species and ecosystems, but also to human health and ways of life. Vital Arctic economic sectors such as tourism, fisheries, and shipping can be potential sources of marine litter and be negatively impacted by it.
Marine litter found on Arctic beaches, coastlines, and inland waters originates both from within the region and outside it, with regional
The Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter in the Arctic will enable the Arctic Council to take targeted and collective action to address this problem within the Arctic and contribute to awareness of the Arctic-specific impacts. It is focused on actions to be taken by Arctic States collectively and independently, and is designed to be complementary to efforts underway in other international and regional organizations and conventions, as well as
their activities and programs.
AMAP supports this effort, focusing on the monitoring aspect of the growing issue of litter and microplastics.
Wouter Jan Strietman