AMAP Assessment 2018: Arctic Ocean Acidification. PRPI Fellow Brooks Kaiser among Lead Authors

By Polar Research and Policy Initiative

Prof. Brooks Kaiser, Head of the Fisheries Unit at Polar Research and Policy Initiative, is one of the lead authors of AMAP Assessment 2018: Arctic Ocean Acidification, produced by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) and released on 10 October 2018 at the 2018 Arctic Biodiversity Congress in Rovaniemi, Finland. Established in 1991, AMAP is one of six Working Groups of the Arctic Council. It is directed by the Ministers of the Arctic Council and their Senior Arctic Officials, who have mandated AMAP to monitor and assess the status of the Arctic region in relation to pollution and climate change issues. Thus far, AMAP has produced a series of high-quality reports, such as its 2013- and 2018-assessment reports on Arctic Ocean Acidification.

On 10 October 2018, AMAP issued two new reports: AMAP Assessment 2018: Biological Effects of Contaminants on Arctic Wildlife and Fish and AMAP Assessment 2018: Arctic Ocean Acidification. The latter is the second such assessment report that is concerned with ocean acidification at the circumpolar Arctic level. The first of the Arctic Ocean acidification assessment reports, published in 2013, found that the Arctic Ocean is experiencing widespread and rapid, even if not geographically uniform, ocean acidification, with the primary driver being uptake of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by human activities. Arctic marine ecosystems are likely to be significantly impacted as a consequence, with ocean acidification being among the various factors that may contribute to alteration of fish species composition and abundance in the Arctic Ocean that, in turn, could also affect the livelihoods of Arctic peoples.

While the 2013-report covered the general chemistry and physiological background of ocean acidification, the stated objectives of the 2018-assessment are to:

  • Update the understanding of chemical and biological responses to ocean acidification since the first Arctic Ocean acidification assessment in 2013.
  • Evaluate how ecological frameworks may respond to ocean acidification.
  • Research socioeconomic and cultural consequences of ocean acidification at selected case study regions.
  • Report on how Arctic Ocean acidification may impact on downstream global systems.
  • Deliver guidance for management of change.

This assessment report is meant to provide the scientific basis and validation for the statements and recommendations made in the AMAP Arctic Ocean Acidification: Assessment Summary for Policy-makers that is to be delivered to Arctic Council Ministers at their meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, in May 2019.

The 2018-report includes an introduction, wherein the legal framework of Arctic Ocean acidification is also examined (Chapter 1); looks at new understanding on regional Arctic Ocean acidification (Chapter 2) and biological responses to ocean acidification (Chapter 3); and provides a general overview of the socio-economic impacts of Arctic Ocean acidification on fisheries (Chapter 4). Brooks Kaiser is one of the lead authors of Chapter 4. Chapter 4 draws on five case studies prepared as part of this assessment, three of which look at specific fisheries – Norwegian kelp and sea urchins; Barents Sea cod; and Greenland shrimp – and two of which consider regional effects and responses to the fishing sector in Alaska and the western Canadian Arctic respectively.

As the report notes in its conclusions:

“The case studies demonstrate that highly productive and locally important commercial and subsistence fisheries are vulnerable to the combined effects of acidification, warming, and other environmental stressors. While impacts on fisheries are likely to be modest in the next decade or two, they are likely to increase substantially beyond the middle of the century. Based on existing knowledge, not all fisheries impacts are considered major or necessarily negative; for example, warming and sea-ice retreat are likely to increase some fish stocks. However, it is unlikely that ecosystems and fish stocks will remain stable over the long-term. 
The case studies illustrate that the effects of ocean acidification are not uniform across the Arctic and will therefore affect communities unevenly. Community resilience and adaptability is strongly tied to economic status and the ability of a community to create job diversity. As with biological impacts, the socio-economic effects are also taking place in the context of other social and economic changes, which are themselves leading to unpredictable impacts and interactions. The case studies demonstrate the high degree of uncertainty involved in anticipating changes caused by or relating to ocean acidification. Despite this uncertainty, the case studies show that successful fisheries management practices can be adapted to account for disruption due to acidification and other environmental stressors. Furthermore, economic planning and investment, such as training of workers, can help create greater economic diversity, adaptability and resilience in the face of uncertainty and change.”

The report also identifies existing knowledge gaps and enlists recommendations, and stresses the need for action on adaptation to be undertaken concurrently with mitigation.

The full report can be accessed via the following link:

The recommended citation for the whole volume is: 
AMAP, 2018. AMAP Assessment 2018: Arctic Ocean Acidification. Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Tromsø, Norway. vi+187pp
The recommended citation for individual chapters is: 
[Lead author list], 2018. [Chapter title]. In: AMAP Assessment 2018: Arctic Ocean Acidification. pp. [xx-yy] Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Tromsø, Norway.
In case of questions regarding educational use of the report, please contact the AMAP Secretariat (
For further information about AMAP, visit


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