Additional Publication Information
The marine areas of the polar regions represent some of the most pristine and environmentally sensitive habitats in the world, as well as hosting a variety of threatened species. Environ-mental assessment of human activities with the potential for significant impacts on the spe-cies, habitats and ecosystems of these remote marine areas is an essential component of any governance regime for the polar regions. The term “environmental assessment” as used in this chapter encompasses not only prior environmental impact assessment (EIA), but also ongoing monitoring of impacts on the marine environment, post EIA obligations, strategic envi-ronmental assessment (SEA) and transboundary implementation of these processes. The well-established process of EIA with its recognized stages of screening, scoping and public con-sultation is critical to minimizing adverse human impacts on these areas and developing suit-able mitigation measures for the duration of such activities and beyond. EIA can alert states to the potential for transboundary harm from certain activities in marine areas and in many cases requires states to notify and consult other states where risks to marine areas under their jurisdiction emerge. EIA is an integral component of a precautionary approach to human ac-tivities with the potential for adverse effects on the marine environment. Undertaking prior EIA and ongoing monitoring of activities with the potential for adverse effects on the marine environment is also vital in incorporating environmental concerns into the development process and facilitating sustainable development.