Protect the Arctic from Future Oil Spills

Twenty-eight years ago, nearly 11 million gallons of oil emptied into Prince William Sound over only three days. The tragedy of the Exxon Valdez oil spill is still present. Oil that may be as toxic as it was 28 years ago can be found in Prince William Sound and is still affecting the ecosystem.

An oil spill could happen again...

If we don’t act now and update inadequate regulations on ship traffic in the Bering Sea, an oil spill could happen again. Take action now to reduce the risks of increased vessel traffic—we can still protect the Arctic.

Dear Mr. Seris,

Thank you for studying the risks of increasing vessel traffic in the Arctic in the recently concluded Port Access Route Study: In the Chukchi Sea, Bering Strait, and Bering Sea (PARS). Now that the study is complete, I urge the Coast Guard work toward implementation of key measures that will improve safety and reduce environmental risks.

As Arctic sea ice continues to melt, the Bering Sea—including the narrow Bering Strait—is projected to experience more and more ship traffic. As ship traffic increases, so do the risks, including oil spills, vessel strikes on marine mammals, air pollution, discharge of wastes into the water and production of underwater noise.

The preliminary findings of the PARS include a proposed traffic route, which would help increase the predictability of vessel traffic and reduce the risk of collisions. They also include proposed Areas to be Avoided (ATBAs) in the Bering Strait and near King Island, St. Lawrence Island, and Nunivak Island. These ATBAs will prevent conflicts with indigenous subsistence activities, minimize risk of groundings, and protect wildlife species.

The Coast Guard should now move toward implementation of these mitigation measures. Specifically, I urge the Coast Guard to pursue designation of a vessel traffic route and all four Areas to be Avoided at the International Maritime Organization.

There is no reason to wait—and every reason to act now to increase safety and reduce risk in the Arctic waters.

Thank you for your consideration.

[Your Name Here]
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