CAFF 2017: State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report


Geographical coverage

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

Arctic, circumpolar assessment

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

The State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report (SAMBR) is a synthesis of the state of knowledge about biodiversity in Arctic marine ecosystems, detectable changes, and important gaps in our ability to assess state and trends in biodiversity across six focal ecosystem components (FECs):

Mandate for the assessment

The Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) is working with partners across the Arctic to harmonize and enhance long-term marine monitoring efforts. These efforts are led by a Marine Steering Group with expertise from six Marine Expert Networks.

In April 2011, these scientists and community experts released the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan, an agreement between six Arctic coastal nations and many national, regional, Indigenous and academic organizations on how to monitor Arctic marine ecosystems. The Plan has been endorsed by Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council.

Implementation is underway. This coordinated approach will facilitate more powerful and cost-effective assessments through the generation of, and access to, improved circumpolar datasets.

The State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report (SAMBR) is the first assessment derived from the implementation of the Circumpolar Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Other (please specify)

Arctic Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan is the first of four pan-Arctic biodiveristy monitoring plans developed by the CBMP to improve the ability to detect and understand the causes of long-term change in the composition, structure and function of Arctic ecosystems. This "umbrella" plan for monitoring the Arctic marine environment works with existing monitoring capacity to facilitate improved and cost-effective monitoring through enhanced integration and coordination. This will allow for earlier detection of trends and more effective policy and management response.

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report: Arctic Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan:

System(s) assessed

  • Marine

Species groups assessed

Sea Ice Biota, Plankton, Seabirds, Benthos, Fishes, Marine mammals

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


If repeated, how frequently

4 year intervals

Assessment outputs


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

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Data and graphics:

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Modelling
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators

This report and associated materials can be downloaded for free at: This publication should be cited as: CAFF. 2017. State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report. Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna International Secretariat, Akureyri, Iceland. 978-9935-431-63-9

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

CAFF is the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council and consists of 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.

CAFF serves as a vehicle to cooperate on species and habitat management and utilization, to share information on management techniques and regulatory regimes, and to facilitate more knowledgeable decision-making. It provides a mechanism to develop common responses on issues of importance for the Arctic ecosystem such as development and economic pressures, conservation opportunities and political commitments.

Multi-stakeholder engagement through workshops; communication; conferences etc

Key stakeholder groups engaged

Scientists, Indigenous peoples, NGOs, policy and decision makers, international orgs etc

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process


Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only
  • Resource experts (e.g. foresters etc)
  • Traditional/local knowledge

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

Arctic Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan:

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

This report and associated materials, data and graphics can be downloaded for free at:

Policy impact

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

A summary report for policy makers providing key findings and advice for monitoring was delivered to a meeting of the foreign Ministers of the Arctic states in May 2017. The ministerial declaration from this meeting welcomed the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program’s State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report as the first of its kind, welcomed the summary report, and encourage further efforts to address monitoring needs and to develop biodiversity status reports for other Arctic ecosystems. Work is now underway to follow-up on the findings of the report.

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, Access to funding, Sharing of data/repatriation of data, Workshops, Developing/promoting and providing access to support tools, 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