A big part of the Arctic is its ocean and coastal environments. Many of the Arctic´s inhabitants live close to the sea, close to marine environments and a significant portion of those depend on the marine and costal environment for their livelihood.
Photo: Kjartan Pétur Sigurðsson
The Arctic marine environment has been used and exploited for thousands of years. Growing human population and rapid technological advancement have increased the utilization of the North's natural resources. Increasing demand for food and energy, and also the increasing density of transport, travel and tourism makes the need for coastal and marine management evident in an environment as sensitive as the Arctic seas and shores.
Photo: Andreas Peters
It was thus logical for the University of the Arctic to welcome a new Thematic Network from the University of Akureyri and the University Centre of the Westfjords, at their 2010 meeting in Yakutsk. The Arctic Coastal and Marine Management Network deals with the sustainable utilisation and conservation of Arctic coastal and marine environments, including the exploitation of resources, transportation and tourism, focussing on sustainable fisheries, aquaculture, and indigenous utilisation of coastal environments. The primary goal within the Thematic Networks will be to build up a network of teachers, researchers and students in this field, and thus increase Arctic cooperation and build a base for the exchange of teachers and researchers. The Arctic Coastal and Marine Management Network is led by two co-hosts, closely cooperating in this field within Iceland: The University of Akureyri and the University Centre of the Westfjords, both members of UArctic for several years. In both institutions there is a strong emphasis on marine and/or coastal issues, and both are located in areas living from/by the sea. Both are closely cooperating with relevant partner institutions and offering studies in relevant fields of interdisciplinary and integrated studies. Other founding participants are from Murmansk State Humanities University, University of Washington, University of Nordland, and the network is open to more partners.
Instead of a kick-off conference, the hosts are organizing a session on Human Aspects of Fisheries in the Arctic Coastal Regions within ICASS VII, the seventh International Conference on Arctic Social Sciences, in Akureyri, in June 2011. Coordinating the kick-off meeting with a larger event makes participation more attractive and easier. It also makes the Thematic Network more visible in a larger context to researchers from other fields or regions. During the kick-off meeting, the future plans and activities of the new network will be discussed, including a base of information, a pool of teachers and researchers, a pool of students and funding for activities such as meetings, conferences, research projects and the PhD students network. In addition, the network should be a forum for establishing joint courses within existing Master's programs in the field of coastal and/or marine management.