Breakout Session 18: Balancing Multiple Uses of Natural Resources in the Arctic

Breakout Session

18. Balancing Multiple Uses of Natural Resources in the Arctic

Coordinator/Moderator: Eleanor Huffines, Manager, U.S. Arctic Program, Pew Environment Group


  1. Edward S. Itta, Mayor, North Slope Borough
  2. Vera Metcalf, Director, Eskimo Walrus Commission and Executive Council, Inuit Circumpolar Confrerence
  3. Mark Robbins, Associate Director, Office of Governor Sean Parnell, State of Alaska
  4. George Noongwook, Commissioner, Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission and Native Village of Savoonga Whaling Captain Association
  5. Pete Slaiby, Vice President, Shell Alaska
  6. Sharman Haley, Professor, University of Alaska, Institute for Social and Economic Research
  7. Richard Glenn, Executive Vice President, Lands and Natural Resources, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation


The Arctic is experiencing fast-paced and far-reaching changes. These changes offer both opportunities and challenges for Alaska and the nation. There is increased interest in offshore oil and gas development, commercial fishing and marine shipping in areas previously considered inhospitable. There is also growing concern about the impacts of such activities on the Arctic’s traditional human communities and ecosystems.

This session will discuss ways to effectively engage local and tribal governments, communities and stakeholders in determining how issues in the Arctic should be resolved.

Before discussing how to balance multiple uses and/or how to minimize future conflicts, it is essential to start with a shared understanding of respective values, interests and responsibilities. Building on that knowledge, the session will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of existing management structures for balancing multiple uses and make recommendations for improvement.

In addition, the session will look at new management tools such as National Ocean Policy for opportunities to resolve future issues in the Arctic. President Obama’s July 19, 2010 Executive Order established guiding principles for ocean management and adopted a framework for coastal and marine spatial planning. The process is designed to address conservation, economic activity, user conflict, and sustainable use of the ocean. Given the unique nature of the Arctic and the diversity of the people and interests, is coastal and marine special planning a good tool for balancing multiple uses in the Arctic? Speakers provide their perspectives on that question and identify ways to maximize stakeholder engagement in the process.

At the end of the presentations, the speakers and the session participants will come together in a roundtable discussion to share ideas on how issues about the future of the Arctic can be resolved.

Resulting Recommendations:

DRAFT  RECOMMENDATIONS – Prepared by breakout groups and subject to review. These recommendations are the result of group processes and do not necessarily represent that positions of NCSE, which served as the enabler of the process that generated the recommendations.

Task 1. The health of the ecosystem is measured by the health of the community. The two are interchangeable.

Task 2. A thriving subsistence culture does not have to be at odds with sustainable development but it requires effective local engagement.

Task 3. Alaska’s North Slope communities and the state of Alaska will continue to depend on oil revenue for health and human services.  

Task 4. To honor traditional views and effectively manage natural resources, federal and state governments should more actively use traditional ecological knowledge.

Task 5.  Increased public and private partnerships to improve scientific understanding will be critical in this fiscal climate.

Task 6. Arctic communities can advance technologically without losing cultural ties or destroying the environment.

Task 7. Some federal management tools, like the Endangered Species Act, have a disproportionate impact on local communities.