Beaufort Sea: Planning for change in a northern sea with multiple uses

Mallory Morgan Rachel M. Gregg
Posted on: 2/26/2017 - Updated on: 3/02/2020

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Rachel Gregg

Project Summary

In 2002, Canada’s Oceans Strategy was adopted, which outlined the vision, principles and objectives for the integrated management of Canada’s estuarine, coastal, and marine ecosystems through a system of Large Ocean Management Areas (LOMAs) and smaller Coastal Management Areas (CMAs). The Beaufort Sea LOMA was one of five priority areas prioritized by the Government of Canada in 2006 for integrated ocean management planning. The LOMA contains important living and non-living marine resources, significant areas of high biological diversity and productivity, and increasing levels of multiple use and competition for ocean space and resources. There are several ocean use interests and activities in the area needing integrated and balanced management, including subsistence fisheries, offshore oil and gas, shipping, maritime defense operations, submarine cables, science, research and development, recreation and tourism, potential offshore minerals development, and marine conservation.

Under the guidance of the Beaufort Sea Partnership, the Beaufort Sea Integrated Ocean Management Plan (IOMP) takes a balanced, adaptive approach to achieve ecosystem, social, economic, and institutional sustainability (Beaufort Sea Partnership 2009). Guiding principles of the IOMP include sustainable development, conservation, shared responsibility, flexibility, inclusiveness, and ecosystem-based management. The IOMP creates a better and more timely collection of information on key risks and their effects; facilitates ongoing measurement of the actual effects of policies; and identifies and enhances greater accountability for management of shared responsibilities across regional agencies and organizations. The IOMP outlines six goals:

  1. Governance: To achieve effective governance for the sustainable use of the Beaufort Sea by integrating the management and responses to cross-cutting issues of all measures and activities in or affecting the Beaufort Sea LOMA;
  2. Economic: To foster sustainable, diverse economic opportunities and options for the social well-being of Canadians, northerners and coastal communities;
  3. Cultural: To maintain and increase sense of place and preserve cultural identity and connections as they relate to oceans and coastal areas;
  4. Social: To improve human health, quality of life, and opportunities as they connect to oceans and coastal areas;
  5. Traditional and Local Knowledge: To promote the value, credibility, and use of traditional and local knowledge to current and future generations; and
  6. Ecosystem: To understand the Beaufort Sea ecosystem, identify important habitats and species, and maintain or enhance ecosystem integrity including natural biological diversity and productivity.

Climate change is identified as a specific large-scale driver in the region with the potential to impact Arctic species, habitats, and the Inuvialuit way of life. The plan also acknowledges that climate change will interact with human activities, such as tourism, commercial fishing, and mining, which may result in cumulative effects that increase the vulnerability of the region’s natural systems and human communities. Climate change is identified as one specific governance objective, which calls for assessment and development of an adaptive management response. In order to achieve this objective, the plan identifies two key actions: (1) model the impacts of climate change on species and the human communities that depend on them, and (2) develop adaptation strategies for anticipated changes. 


Morgan, M. & R.M. Gregg. 2017. Beaufort Sea: Planning for change in a northern sea with multiple uses. Summary of a project of the Beaufort Sea Partnership. Retrieved from CAKE:… (Last updated February 2017)

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Affiliated Organizations

Beaufort Sea: Planning for change in a northern sea with multiple uses

Affiliated Organizations

The Partnership is a forum that allows all interested parties the opportunity to discuss mutual interests, goals, and responsibilities. 


Habitat/Biome Type