Climate change has already removed at least 75 percent of Arctic summer sea ice volume at rates never before experienced in human history. Soon, the Arctic Ocean will be like other oceans for much of the year: open water that is exposed to exploitation and environmental destruction.
Despite the Arctic Ocean’s unique vulnerabilities, it is still the least protected of all the world’s oceans. A strong Global Ocean Treaty will enable us to finally protect the Arctic Ocean, as part of a network of sanctuaries.
And we aren’t the only ones who want this: a Greenpeace survey revealed that 74 percent of people across 30 different countries support the establishment of a global sanctuary in the international waters around the North Pole. More than 70 percent of those people believed that the Arctic should be free of oil drilling and other heavy industry.
Not only would more oil unleash even more global warming, it would also put fragile ecosystems at even greater risk from oil spills. In these remote and icy conditions, the chances of cleaning up an oil spill are slim to none.
Our independent research teams travel to some of the most remote parts of the globe. From the Amazon rainforests to the Arctic wilderness you can trust that Greenpeace will report back on environmental problems and work with local communities and governments to find a solution.
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Scientists have identified the Arctic as one of the priority areas needing protection as part of a global network of ocean sanctuaries because of its vital importance to climate stability.
The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is in the Norwegian Arctic, carrying activists from all over the world, who are ambassadors for the People vs Arctic Oil movement, to document, expose and challenge the aggressive search for new oil. While documenting the the impact of the climate crisis and investigating marine life in the region to demand our leaders move towards sustainable energy sources and come together to create ocean sanctuaries to protect this essential but fragile place and at least 30% of our oceans.
The winter of 2015/ 2016 represents a record low for the yearly maximum extent of sea ice across the whole Arctic region. In Svalbard, the fjords would usually be partially covered with sea ice, but this winter most of the archipelago is surrounded by open water. The crew of the Arctic Sunrise ship, which traveled to the region during this important time, found very few patches of fast ice around the coastline. Local guides who lived on Svalbard and who joined the expedition, were surprised to see so little sea ice cover compared with previous years.
A seal rests on an ice floe. Greenpeace is in the Arctic to document the lowest sea ice level on record.
Ringed seals require good sea ice to raise their young at this time of year and polar bears newly emerged from their dens, rely on healthy sea ice cover on which to hunt the seals.
A walrus on the beach at Sarstangen on Prince Carls Forland, on the west coast of Svalbard. Greenpeace is touring Svalbard to document and confront the fishing industry operating in the Arctic. A large part of the seafood industry has recently pledged to stay out of these pristine waters whilst other companies continue to pose a threat through destructive fishing practices.