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Goal: 30,000 Progress: 22,454
Sponsored by: Defenders of Wildlife

Until recently, most populations of polar bears were considered healthy, even growing. But in recent years, climate change has begun to take a serious toll on these impressive animals. To make matters worse, there's another threat lurking in the waters around polar bear habitat: Oil.

Polar bears spend much of their time on Arctic sea ice, sometimes hundreds of miles from land. Surrounded by water, they share this region with ever-increasing vessel traffic. Ships and tankers of all kinds make their way through the Bering Strait (home to a wide variety of marine species) and around the Arctic, holding millions of gallons of fuel between them. Most of these ships use something called heavy fuel oil — a specific type of oil that produces more harmful emissions, would be nearly impossible to clean up in the Arctic environment, and is carried in such large quantities that a leak or spill could be catastrophic. This type of fuel has already been banned in Antarctic waters.

The remote Arctic, with its dramatic and unpredictable weather, is no place for this kind of fuel. It makes each ship a possible environmental disaster, with the potential to harm or even kill polar bears and other wildlife throughout the region. And there are safer alternatives — distillate fuels and natural gases that don't carry the same potential risks.

Vessel traffic through the Arctic will only increase as a warming climate means less and less sea ice. This is a threat we must address now. Ask officials to place a ban on heavy fuel oil use in the Arctic, and reduce this threat to a pristine environment and the polar bears and other wildlife that depend on it.

Sign Here

Dear Arctic Council Secretariat,

As a wildlife advocate and voice for endangered species, I want to draw your attention to a serious problem in the Arctic that threatens polar bears, as well as all other wildlife in the region.

As Arctic ice continues to recede due to climate change, shipping in the Arctic is only increasing, with billions of tons of cargo moving through the region every year. The International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Polar Code, while addressing some environmental concerns, does not account for the immense threat to the Arctic's wildlife posed by shipping and heavy fuel oil (HFO).

The Arctic's dramatic and unpredictable weather and changing sea ice conditions make vessel transits of any sort a serious risk. The Arctic Council's Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment stated that: "The most significant threat from ships to the Arctic marine environment is the release of oil through accidental or illegal discharge." A spill of any kind in the Arctic should be avoided at all costs. But with the added danger of HFO on board, every ship in the region becomes a potential environmental disaster.

This type of oil, markedly more harmful to the environment than distillate marine fuel, has already been banned in Antarctic waters. The black carbon created by burning heavy fuel oils is well documented to hasten the already warming climate in the region. As you are aware, the Arctic Council has already created a task force directed to find ways of reducing black carbon emissions in the Arctic. HFO is also more difficult to clean up than distillate fuel, even in ideal environments, because it sinks below the water's surface. And it has proven to persist in the water for weeks after a spill. Yet countless ships both burn and carry this fuel through the Arctic every year, even with reasonable alternatives readily available, such as distillate fuels and liquefied natural gas.

Permitting of non-ice-class ships must also be addressed. With the risks involved in sailing the Arctic, no matter the type of fuel on board, it is a threat to human safety and the environment to allow any non-ice-class ships to traverse the Arctic. I am concerned that the language currently in the Polar Code still permits many ships not built for Arctic conditions to travel through the region, raising the risk of a dangerous accident, as well as that of a fuel spill.

I ask you to urge the IMO to ban heavy fuel oil use for shipping in or near Arctic waters, and include this provision in the Polar Code. I further ask that you include specific guidelines in the Polar Code to prevent non-ice-class ships from traveling Arctic waters. We must reduce the risk of an oil spill in this region, the consequences of which could be devastating to its people, landscape and wildlife.


Petition Signatures

May 28, 2017 (Name not displayed)
May 28, 2017 Tammy King
May 27, 2017 Cynthia Huisman
May 27, 2017 Sandra Kelch
May 26, 2017 Jeanne Wurst
May 25, 2017 Tina Havlik
May 25, 2017 (Name not displayed)
May 25, 2017 Boris Dirnbach
May 25, 2017 Steve Conrad
May 25, 2017 Veronica Butler
May 23, 2017 Carol Holler
May 22, 2017 Beatrice Platt
May 22, 2017 (Name not displayed)
May 22, 2017 Anna V. Pardo
May 22, 2017 Lisane Snyder
May 22, 2017 janine hofmann
May 21, 2017 Aviva Shliselberg
May 21, 2017 sara herfra
May 21, 2017 (Name not displayed)
May 20, 2017 James Deschene
May 20, 2017 Ana Andre
May 20, 2017 Shirley Troia
May 19, 2017 Cynthia Riedl
May 17, 2017 natalie hughes
May 17, 2017 Laura Congdon Please do what you can to save these beautiful animals because you can make a difference
May 16, 2017 (Name not displayed)
May 16, 2017 erek king
May 16, 2017 Alyssa Walls
May 16, 2017 Denise Mitchell
May 16, 2017 Alison Hogan
May 16, 2017 Mary Ellen Faustini
May 15, 2017 criss sledge
May 15, 2017 Emile Ouellette
May 15, 2017 Chloe Nolan
May 14, 2017 Madalena Hutcheson
May 13, 2017 Claire Fairchild
May 13, 2017 victoria finklea
May 13, 2017 M Ferguson
May 12, 2017 Robert Loates
May 12, 2017 (Name not displayed)
May 12, 2017 Tans Tans
May 12, 2017 rohana wolf
May 12, 2017 Elena Burankova
May 11, 2017 Chris Develey ALL LIVES MATTER!!!!! We Must Address This Immediately!! An If You Have The Power To Make This Happen, PLEASE DO IMMEDIATELY!!!!!
May 11, 2017 Theresa Cosmano
May 10, 2017 Brett Cumbia
May 9, 2017 Nasim ES
May 9, 2017 Marcelo Fasano
May 9, 2017 L B

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