Marine Environmental Law, Policy and Security Amid Arctic Climate Change: Cooperation and Conflict in Creating a Pan-Arctic Marine Protected Area Network

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Nicholas Funicelli

Second Advisor

Bernhard Riegl


The Arctic ecosystem is experiencing rapid changes due to a warming climate, globalization and an increasing demand for resources amid a growing population on the planet. Opportunities and challenges to protect the Arctic environment and the interests of its stakeholders, including Nations, Indigenous peoples and NGO’s, are being addressed by a diverse community of scientists, marine environmentalists, human rights activists, diplomats from numerous countries and investors/business entrepreneurs. When environmental conflicts emerge because of competing interests, positions or needs, the governance in the Arctic region may provide processes or legal policies to address complex issues. The Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum which provides non-binding advice and leadership to address issues in the region, recently (2015) presented its plan to create a network for MPA’s across national jurisdictions in the Arctic Ocean led by a working group of the Arctic Council, PAME (Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment). PAME designed a “Network plan for a Pan-Arctic Network of Marine Protected Areas” (hereafter Network plan) to guide the development of a network of places and natural features specially-managed for the conservation and protection of the Arctic marine environment. The Network plan references its vision, a plan with principles, goals and objectives, as well as key challenges that may create conflict in the region. The Network plan also notes, however, opportunities for cooperation and significant benefits as the decade long plan is implemented. Following a thorough exploration of the content of PAME’s proposal to create and implement a Network of MPA’s in the Arctic, an examination of scientific studies and regional disputes demonstrate how the plan to protect the Arctic marine environment may be effective amid climate change, cooperation and conflict.

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