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Arctic Circle
  • May 24, 2022
  • 3:00-4:00 pm (GMT)

Connecting the dots: an Arctic Ocean network for the conservation of marine life

This Arctic Circle Webcast Session provided participants and a broad spectrum of audiences the opportunity to showcase, exchange views on, and discuss cooperation opportunities linked to Arctic marine conservation efforts and to ArcNet– an Arctic Ocean network of Priority Areas for Conservation.

Starting with a brief introduction to ArcNet, the session let a number of invited participants from diverse Arctic backgrounds express their views on, and experiences with, marine conservation and conservation initiatives. The remainder of the session was dedicated to facilitated exchanges between panel members and the audience.


  • Martin Sommerkorn, Head of Conservation WWF Arctic Programme
  • Lauren Devine, Director, Ecosystem Conservation Office at Aleut Community of St. Paul Island
  • Barnie Aggark, Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut, Canada
  • Lauren Wenzel, Director, National Marine Protected Areas Center at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Moderator: John Morrison, Director of Conservation Planning and Measures at WWF-US


ArcNet – an Arctic Ocean network of Priority Areas for Conservation is an innovative and collaborative approach to designing and establishing an ocean-scale network of protected and conserved areas that is geared to enable broad participation, accelerate implementation, and serve as a unifying and overarching vision for conservation efforts at local to international scales.

With ocean life across the Arctic under mounting pressure from climate change and expanding industrial activities, with Arctic marine ecosystems and species being the basis for the livelihood, health and cultural identity of Indigenous and local communities, ecosystem-based adaptation and sustainable blue economies, and with nations from around the world committing this year to the most ambitious conservation targets yet, a framework that enables broad participation to reconcile ocean usage and conservation while also supporting the needs and diversity of marine life across a connected ocean is key to success.

The objective of the session is to broaden awareness of ArcNet across regional and global audiences and to support improved understanding of, and opportunities linked to the inclusive and implementation-enabling conservation approach the ArcNet framework supports.

Visit the ArcNet website

Martin Sommerkorn

Head of Conservation for the WWF Arctic Programme

Martin Sommerkorn is Head of Conservation for the WWF Arctic Programme where he brings science underscoring the role of nature for resilience and sustainability to the policy-making table. Martin leads WWF’s Arctic work on nature conservation, ecosystem management and governance and climate change, and co-chairs WWF’s global work on the ocean and climate change. Martin is coordinating lead author of the IPCC’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate and contributes as expert and lead author to Arctic Council assessments and projects. Before joining WWF in 2008, Martin’s first career as an Arctic ecosystem researcher let him gather first-hand experience of the Arctic’s unique places, peoples, and concerns across Siberia, Alaska, Greenland, Svalbard and Scandinavia.

Lauren Divine

Director, Ecosystem Conservation Office at Aleut Community of St. Paul Island

Dr. Lauren Divine is the Director for the Ecosystem Conservation Office for the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, a Federally recognized Tribe in the Pribilof Islands, Alaska. She has worked for the Tribe for 10 years. Her education and experiences have brought her to a unique position with the Tribal Government where she has the opportunity to span the boundaries across western sciences; local and traditional knowledges; tribal, federal and state management; and stakeholder engagement through community-based and citizen science programs. Lauren seeks to strengthen relationships across these boundaries in order to better serve the community, wildlife, and overall marine and terrestrial ecosystems of St. Paul, the Bering Sea, and broader Arctic.

Barnie Aggark

Senior Executive Director, Foxe Basin Kivalliq North Sapujiyiit Society

Barnie Aggark was born and raised in Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut, Canada, where he has lived his whole life raised amongst elders and grew up hunting with elders. He has been a first responder for community search and rescue since the age of 15, and has served two terms as mayor. He also served as a chairman and board member of the local Hunters and Trappers Organization for over 20 years and on regional wildlife management boards for over 10 years. He has been active with the 1st Canadian Ranger patrol group in Chesterfield Inlet for 22 years, including as a sergeant for the last 19 years. Since 2007, he has worked hard to protect his community’s land and waters from the impacts of increased shipping on our marine mammals, including most recently through spearheading the creation of the Foxe Basin Kivalliq North Sapujiyiit/Guardians of the Sea Society, and will continue to do so for as long as he can.

Lauren Wenzel

Director of the National Marine Protected Areas Center

As the Director of the National Marine Protected Areas Center at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Lauren Wenzel focuses on connecting and strengthening the nation’s diverse marine and coastal protected area programs through capacity building, information and tools, and communication and engaging stakeholders. Her focus is on building partnerships among U.S. and international marine and coastal programs and stakeholders to demonstrate and communicate the value of protecting the ocean’s most important places. Lauren has been with the MPA Center since 2004, and has an M.S. in Natural Resources Management and Policy from University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

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