Arctic Marine Areas of Heightened Ecological and Cultural Significance: Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) IIC (CAFF, AMAP, SDWG)

Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Regional
Country or countries covered Canada, Denmark, Greenland, Russia, Iceland, Norway, United States, Finland, Faroe Islands, Sweden
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

CAFF, in partnership with the AMAP and SDWG working groups of the Arctic Council has released the AMSA IIC report on the Identification of Arctic marine areas of heightened ecological and cultural significance.The overall objective is to identify the ecologically and culturally significant marine areas that are vulnerable to marine vessel activities in the Arctic in light of changing climate conditions and increasing multiple marine uses.

Specific objectives include:

  • Compile existing information and identify Arctic areas of heightened ecological and cultural significance
  • Overlap these areas with existing information on Arctic marine vessel activity and - prognosis for future development due to climate change and consider their vulnerability in relation to vessel activity
  • Report the findings to the Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council

Mandate for the assessment

The Arctic Council Working Groups (CAFF, AMAP, SDWG) conucted the assessment in response to recommendation II(C) from the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA), which deals with Marine Areas of Heightened Ecological and Cultural Significance.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Urban

Species groups assessed

Ecosystem services/functions assessed



Supporting Services/Functions

Cultural Services

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment

One off

Assessment outputs


Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Geospatial analysis

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

Via the National Representatives assigned by each of the eight Arctic Council Member States, representatives of Indigenous Peoples' organizations that are Permanent Participants to the Council, and Arctic Council observer countries and organizations. The CAFF Working Group operates by the Arctic Council Rules of Procedures. All Arctic states, Indigenous organisations (members to the Arctic Council) and a range of Arctic Council observers

Key stakeholder groups engaged

Policy-makers, government officials, indigenous peoples, and civil society representatives

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process

Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only
  • Traditional/local knowledge

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

All the data from the report is available on the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service:

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

Report was submitted as material for use in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) process to identify Ecologically, Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) in the Arctic

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Network and sharing experiences, Sharing of data/repatriation of data, Communication and awareness raising

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information