Thursday, 23 October 2014

Environmentalists Call for 10-Year Moratorium on Arctic Shipping Increase to Protect Endangered Beluga Whales

Environmentalists today called on the eight Arctic nations of the Arctic Council to enact a ten-year moratorium on any increase in Arctic shipping to protect endangered beluga whales from the threat of growing ship traffic in their habitat. The moratorium will enable nations to finalize and implement the “Polar Code,” an agreement currently being negotiated under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), that aims to establish environmental, safety, and shipping controls, in order to constrain industrial accidents and ecosystem impacts in the Arctic.

A new report released today by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Endangered Belugas and the Growing Threats of Climate Change, Arctic Shipping and Industrialization, comprehensively documents the plight of the beluga whale, a species that was hunted to near extinction throughout its range. Today it continues to face a barrage of threats, including poorly-regulated subsistence hunting, climate change, oil and gas drilling, ship traffic, pollution, and live capture for aquariums.

The report’s publication coincides with the opening today of the semi-annual meeting of the Arctic Council in Yellowknife, Canada whose members include the United States, Canada, Greenland-Denmark, Russia, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland. Senior Arctic Council officials meeting this week will consider the impacts of climate change and expanding industrial exploitation on the fragile Arctic ecosystem, its biodiversity, and the communities on the front line of rising global temperatures.

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