HOW DO INTERNATIONAL GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES PREPARE FOR AND RESPOND TO AN OIL SPILL?
What countries surround the Arctic Ocean? Imagine looking at the globe from the North Pole down (or take a look at the map above) and try to locate the eight countries directly surrounding the Arctic. With a lesser volume and extent of sea ice, the Arctic will open up access to oil fields and trade routes for many countries, not solely the ones adjacent to the Arctic Ocean. Prevention of oil spill contamination in this shared natural space is an international affair.
The collective governments of the Arctic region established the Arctic Council in 1996. In May 2013, the countries of the council signed a legally binding Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic. The agreement is between Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. The objective of this agreement is to have nations cooperating in preparedness for oil spills in the Arctic so they can protect the marine environment.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jakobsson, M., L. A. Mayer, B. Coakley, J. A. Dowdeswell, S. Forbes, B. Fridman, H. Hodnesdal, R. Noormets, R. Pedersen, M. Rebesco, H.-W. Schenke, Y. Zarayskaya A, D. Accettella, A. Armstrong, R. M. Anderson, P. Bienhoff, A. Camerlenghi, I. Church, M. Edwards, J. V. Gardner, J. K. Hall, B. Hell, O. B. Hestvik, Y. Kristoffersen, C. Marcussen, R. Mohammad, D. Mosher, S. V. Nghiem, M. T. Pedrosa, P. G. Travaglini, and P. Weatherall, The International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean (IBCAO) Version 3.0, Geophysical Research Letters. (The map is devoid of sea ice because it is showing ocean depths).
Management of the Arctic Ocean is international. The Arctic Council helps coordinate international involvement in oil spill preparedness.
International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean
Take a closer look at the “International Bathymetric Chart of the Arctic Ocean” (image at the beginning of Oil and the Changing Arctic, Lesson 2.5). Find images under the links downloads and posters.
"Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic" (2013)
Interested in the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic? Here is a link to the text of the agreement signed on May 15, 2013.
Arctic Council History
Learn about the structure, history, functions, events and members of the Arctic Council. Explore other aspects of the Arctic Council's website to get updates on what is happening with the Arctic environment and its peoples.
Arctic Council: “Understanding Risk to the Arctic Environment.” (Nov. 19, 2013)
Read this brief, general news piece from the Arctic Council, on their discussions about risk assessment for the Arctic. They want to investigate increased shipping and tourism and their possible effects on the Arctic environment and communities.
“U.S., Canada Conduct Bering Strait spill drill” (July 25, 2013) Alaska Journal of Commerce
The international use of waters for trade and oil requires international cooperation in response to possible oil spills. One example of cooperation is between the US and Canadian Coast Guards. Learn more about their joint spill response drills preformed in July, 2013 by reading this article.