throughout the western Alaskan region — populations
that are the most dependent on the ocean for harvesting
food and earning a living, but also those with the most
knowledge about approaches to conservation, area ecology, the region’s topography and cultural expectations.
“We invested years of outreach going door-to-door
and put in incredible amounts of time [with area cit-
izens],” Emerson said. “The indigenous people, who
not only harvest their food from the ocean — from the
Bering, and the Chukchi and the Beaufort Sea — are
U.S. citizens, and they should depend on and count on
the U.S. Coast Guard to respond to help them. But they
also have a vested interest in protecting the environ-
The indigenous communities were instrumental in
the analysis of the area and, in what Emerson said is a
unique approach to any type of marine traffic separation
and management scheme for a region, they identified
ATBAs. Further bolstering the representation of west-
ern Alaska’s regional communities is the World Wildlife
Fund (WWF), with its prolific efforts over the course of
the PARS process to provide in-depth comments and
vetted recommendations on behalf of fellow nongovern-
mental organizations and conservation groups, while
also championing the enforcement of ATBAs.
“The U.S. Coast Guard is taking a huge step forward
in developing common-sense approaches to responsi-
bly reduce the risk of maritime incidents in some of the
most ecologically significant areas of the Bering Strait.
This plan will make shipping safer in the Bering Strait
region for mariners, local communities and wildlife
alike,” Elena Agarkova, a shipping expert and senior
program officer with WWF’s Arctic Field Program, said
in a Feb. 27 statement.
“Shipping traffic in the rough and poorly charted
Bering Strait region is on the rise, yet there are no
shipping-specific regulations in place to help prevent
accidents. By looking at the areas to be avoided recommended by the Coast Guard, shippers can decide to play
it safe and stay away from sensitive areas,” she said.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton patrols the ice edge in the Arctic Ocean in support of Arctic Shield 2016 Aug. 28. As the use of the northern
sea route, transits through the Bering Strait and Sea, and cruise ship traffic have increased, so has the demand for maritime preparedness in the
region. The Coast Guard recently concluded a Port Access Route Study for the Chukchi Sea, Bering Strait and Bering Sea to clarify historically
poorly charted shipping routes for marine operators.