With the Arctic Ocean sea-ice cover reducing seasonally, due in part to man-induced climate change, the North Pole’s unique “floating ice-reef ecosystem” (Pen Hadow, Arctic Mission 2017) is increasingly stressed – with its unique habitat fast disappearing. The environmental issue of sea-ice loss needs now to be less about the geophysics of a melting layer of frozen 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.
But the new threats resulting from increased access to this newly-created open ocean – commercial shipping, fishing, tourist cruises and mineral extraction – can and must be controlled as soon as possible.
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 and only partially protective 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 activity through to 2032.
In Autumn 2017 Arctic Mission’s story, research, and images about 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.