Statement of issues
Of all the major oceans, only one, the Arctic Ocean, hasn’t been fished, polluted by waste, drilled into for oil and gas or traversed by thousands of ships. Not because we intended it to remain untouched but because it is covered by ice. By the middle of the century the ice may be gone for much of the year, which creates a dilemma. What should we do? Treat the Arctic as a special preserve or mistreat the Arctic like the rest of the oceans? How do we manage the competing priorities and perhaps hand over at least one unblemished area of ocean to future generations.
At stake is an area of high seas covering some 2.8 million square kilometers (1.1 million square miles) surrounded by the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of Canada, the U.S., Russia, Denmark and Norway.
Known as the Central Arctic, it contains some of the largest untapped hydrocarbon resources on the planet and is expected to sustain massive fish stocks once the ice is gone. Some argue that a continually growing world population will need those resources and that they should hence be allocated and tapped as soon as possible.
Others counter that the ocean needs protection and that the Central Arctic provides a unique opportunity to protect a sizeable chunk of it, since no one can claim hardship as a result of being evicted from it, at least for the time being. The Central Arctic is being thrust into the centre of the debate on how we should treat the ocean: as a storehouse of resources, living and non-living, to be removed as we see fit, or as an area we are given in custody, developed and managed where appropriate, and preserved and protected where needed.
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|Conservation||ACOPS||Advisory Committee on the Protection of the Sea||United Kingdom||Visit Website||52.2065 0.1183|
|Academic||-||Arctic Centre, University of Lapland||Finland||Visit Website||66.4866 25.7124|
|Conservation||-||Arctic Circle||Iceland||Visit Website||64.1504 -21.9326|
|Action And Engagement||-||Arctic Council||Norway||Visit Website||69.5290 20.6717|
|Action And Engagement||-||Arctic Expert Committee, Nordic Council||Denmark||Visit Website||55.6777 12.5810|
|Academic||AINA||Arctic Institute of North America||Canada||Visit Website||51.0746 -114.1284|
|Conservation||WWF||Arctic Programme, World Wildlife Fund||Canada||Visit Website||45.4189 -75.7014|
|Action And Engagement||ARCUS||Arctic Research Consortium of the United States||United States||Visit Website||64.8558 -147.8099|
|Education||-||Arctic Sea Ice Forum||United States||Visit Website||37.0902 -95.7129|
|Academic||PMEL, NOAA||Arctic Zone, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration||United States||Visit Website||47.6839 -122.2634|
|Indigenous Rights||AWRH||Association of World Reindeer Herders||Norway||Visit Website||69.0190 23.0584|
|Academic||BAS||British Antarctic Survey||United Kingdom||Visit Website||52.2137 0.0817|
|Action And Engagement||CARC||Canadian Arctic Resources Committee||Canada||Visit Website||62.4547 -114.3739|
|Academic||-||Centre for Global Change and Arctic System Research||United States||Visit Website||64.8563 -147.8235|
|Conservation||CCU||Circumpolar Conservation Union||United States||Visit Website||37.7771 -122.4196|
|Conservation||-||Clean Arctic Alliance, HFO Free Arctic||United Kingdom||Visit Website||51.5064 -0.1272|
|Academic||CRREL||Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, 3909 Halls Ferry Road||United States||Visit Website||32.2982 -90.8676|
|Conservation||CAFF||Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna||Iceland||Visit Website||65.6853 -18.1187|
|Conservation||-||Gallifrey Foundation||Switzerland||Visit Website||46.36337 6.21545|
|Action And Engagement||-||Global Ocean Commission||United Kingdom||Visit Website||51.7600 -1.2614|
|Academic||ICE-ARC||ICE-ARC EU FP7 Project||United Kingdom||Visit Website||52.2137 0.0817|
The aim of the International Network for Scientific Investigations of Deep-Sea Ecosystems (INDEEP) is to develop and synthesise our understanding of deep-sea global biodiversity and functioning and provide a framework to bridge the gap between scientific results and society to aid in the formation of sustainable management strategies.
|Academic||IARC||International Arctic Research Centre||United States||Visit Website||64.8588 -147.8525|
|Academic||IASC||International Arctic Science Committee||Iceland||Visit Website||65.6853 -18.1187|
|Academic||IASSA||International Arctic Social Sciences Association||United States||Visit Website||42.5132 -92.4621|
|Conservation||-||International Declaration on the Future of the Arctic, Greenpeace||Netherlands||Visit Website||52.3504 4.8326|
|U.n. Agency||IMO||International Maritime Organisation||United Nations||Visit Website||51.4935 -0.1210|
|Action And Engagement||IUCH||International Union for Circumpolar Health||Denmark||Visit Website||55.6757 12.5676|
International Union for the Conservation of Nature
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations. It provides public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.
Created in 1948, IUCN has evolved into the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network. It harnesses the experience, resources and reach of its 1,300 Member organisations and the input of some 13,000 experts. IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. Our experts are organised into six commissions dedicated to species survival, environmental law, protected areas, social and economic policy, ecosystem management, and education and communication.
|Indigenous Rights||IWGIA||International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs||Denmark||Visit Website||55.6722689 12.593722899999989|
|Conservation||-||Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS), Parvati||Canada||Visit Website||45.4218 -75.6912|
|Conservation||-||National Geographic Society||United States||Visit Website||38.9052 -77.0382|
|Academic||NIC||National Ice Centre||United States||Visit Website||38.8542 -76.9384|
|Academic||NSIDC||National Snow & Ice Data Centre||United States||Visit Website||40.0127 -105.2536|
|Conservation||NRDC||Natural Resources Defence Council||United States||Visit Website||40.7406 -73.9933|
|Conservation||NAMMCO||North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission||Norway||Visit Website||69.6809 18.9860|
|Academic||-||Norwegian Polar Institute||Norway||Visit Website||69.6510 18.9557|
|Conservation||-||Ocean Conservancy||United States||Visit Website||38.9075 -77.0440|
Ocean Frontier Institute
The region’s unique physical, chemical and biological processes make it an epicentre of international scientific interest and a predictor for the global ocean. Its deep overturning circulation results in the most intense carbon sequestration on the planet. It has a highly productive marine ecosystem and air-sea interactions that modulate the weather and climate of North America and Europe. Diminished ice cover has increased shipping in the Canadian Arctic, raising sovereignty, security, social and environmental issues.
Changes — research examines key aspects of atmosphere-ocean interaction, resulting ocean dynamics, and shifting ecosystems
|Conservation||-||Oceana||United States||Visit Website||38.9033 -77.0393|
|Indigenous Rights||RAIPON||Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North||Russia||Visit Website||55.6554 37.4960|
|Conservation||-||Save the Arctic, Greenpeace||Netherlands||Visit Website||52.3504 4.8326|
|Academic||-||Scott Polar Research Institute||United Kingdom||Visit Website||52.1986 0.1261|
|Academic||-||The Alaska Climate Research Centre||United States||Visit Website||64.8563 -147.8235|
|Conservation||OSPAR||The Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic||United Kingdom||Visit Website||51.5195 -0.1215|
|Conservation||ICES||The International Council for the Exploration of the SeaÂ||Denmark||Visit Website||55.6715 12.5757|
|Action And Engagement||-||The Northern Forum||Russia||Visit Website||62.0355 129.6755|
|Action And Engagement||SCAR||The Scientific Committee on Antarctic||United Kingdom||Visit Website||52.1986 0.1261|
|Education||UArctic||The University of the Arctic||Finland||Visit Website||66.4866 25.7124|
|U.n. Agency||UNDP||United Nations Development Programme||United Nations||Visit Website||40.7503 -73.9691|
|U.n. Agency||UNECE||United Nations Economic Commission for Europe||United Nations||Visit Website||46.19963920000001 6.14545099999998|
|U.n. Agency||UNEP||United Nations Environment Programme||Kenya||Visit Website||-1.2835 36.8238|
|Action And Engagement||USRC||United States Arctic Research Commission||United States||Visit Website||38.8818 -77.1132|
|Action And Engagement||WNC||West Nordic Council||Iceland||Visit Website||64.1467 -21.9408|
|Action And Engagement||-||World Economic Forum||Switzerland||-||46.22526939999999 6.19168830000001|
United Oceans is the place to find and be found. Join the conversation and be listed.
The fraction of light reflected by a surface back into space. Ice and other white surfaces have a high albedo (close to 1) while dark surfaces have a low albedo (close to 0). An albedo of 1 means that all incoming energy is reflected back out. An albedo of 0 means that the surface is absorbing all incoming energy. Albedos closer to 0 will cause more warming because they are absorbing more incoming energy.”As sea-ice and snow coverage in the Arctic begins to shrink with global warming, the albedo lowers, the exposed ocean and land masses absorb more heat, and global temperatures increase. This is a self-reinforcing effect, as the higher temperatures will cause more ice melt, and the cycle starts again. Climate changes are thus of particular importance in the Arctic, as they have the potential to affect temperature changes globally.”
The Arctic is considered as one of the Earth’s last pristine ecosystems. It hosts an incredibly unique ecosystem with a rich biodiversity, with hundreds of migratory species relying on the Arctic as they travel long distances every year. A total of 21,000 species inhabit the Arctic, including 5,000 animals such as marine mammals, birds, fish, and other higher organisms as well as 2,000 types of algae, and tens of thousands of ecologically critical microbes. These species are of critical ecological importance because of their specific adaptations to the Arctic’s harsh climatic conditions. This biodiversity is also critical for economic reasons: the resources provided by the Arctic ecosystem provide local jobs, genetic resources and climate regulation through carbon sequestration, for example. However, the Arctic has an incomplete legal protection for biodiversity, and with the increased demand for Arctic exploration and exploitation it is increasingly under threat.
The leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.” There are eight member countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. They carry out work in six Working Groups: Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP), Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF), Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group (EPPR), Protection of Arctic Marine Environment Working Group (PAME), Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG). There are an additional six organizations representing the Arctic indigenous peoples. Several states are also involved as Arctic Council Observers, allowing them to influence policy-making through participation in working groups, financial contributions, project proposals and verbal and written statements. Over last few years, an increasing number of states have been applying for observer status in the Arctic Council due to an increasing demand for faster shipping routes, oil, gas, fish and other resources. East Asian states (China and Japan for example) are particularly interested in increased fishing territory and faster shipping routes, and are growing influence in the region through their observer status with these commercial interests in mind.
Arctic VS Antarctic governance
There are several differences between the Arctic and the Antarctic that make governing the Arctic much more challenging. While the Antarctic is governed by a single treaty system, the Arctic is comprised of a patchwork of legal systems. This patchwork consists of existing legal systems of the eight Arctic states, as well as a soft law regime under the Arctic council. This makes the Arctic particularly difficult to govern, as it requires the coordination of numerous different environmental laws. Furthermore, the Arctic is inhabited by 3.8 million people (including indigenous people: see definition of FPIC) while the Antarctic is only visited by tourists. Industrial development has already begun in the Arctic since the 19th Century with whaling and sealing, and later with mining, hydrocarbon and other industrial developments. Finally, Antarctica is nonmilitarised since 1961, whereas the Arctic is a highly strategic and militarized territory.
Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ)
Marine Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ), commonly called the high seas (or the donut hole in the case of the Arctic, because of its shape), are those areas of ocean for which no one nation has sole responsibility for management. In all, these make up 40 percent of the surface of our planet, comprising 64 percent of the surface of the oceans and nearly 95 percent of its volume.” The Arctic represents around 3 – 4 % of the Earth’s ocean surface, around 14 million square kilometers. 2.8 million square kilometers of this are ABNJ. The remaining area is governed by the existing legal systems of eight states (Russia, Sweden, Denmark, United States, Norway, Finland and Canada) who own land areas and the marine territories of their EEZs (see definition for EEZ). In the Arctic ABNJ, clear legal instruments are lacking, but sector-specific regulations do exist. For example, the IMO (see definition) has established special protective measures in defined areas (see definition for Special Areas and PSSA) and has outlined an international code of safety for ships operating in polar areas (see Polar Code).
Climate change affects temperatures at the poles to a much greater extent than in other places: the Arctic is warming at a rate of almost twice the global average. Summer sea ice has been predicted to disappear within a generation, which will have a knock-on effect on global temperatures because of the albedo effect (see definition). Furthermore, because of warming, Arctic fish populations are expected to decline significantly and global sea levels are expected to rise with the melting of glaciers, sea ice and permafrost (see definition). Another significant concern is that with increasing ice melt entering the ocean, the Gulf Stream, which provides warmer temperatures to north-western Europe, will slow down significantly or stop completely.
Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSA)
Ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSAs) are geographically or oceanographically discrete areas that provide important services to one or more species/populations of an ecosystem or to the ecosystem as a whole, compared to other surrounding areas or areas of similar ecological characteristics, or otherwise meet the following criteria: Uniqueness or rarity, Special importance for life history stages of species, Importance for threatened, endangered or declining species and/or habitats, Vulnerability, fragility, sensitivity or slow recovery, Biological productivity, Biological diversity, Naturalness.” 11 EBSAs have been identified in the arctic.
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) was created by UNCLOS (see definition for UNCLOS), and is one of the key innovations in the law of the sea. The EEZ is an area beyond and adjacent to a coastal State’s territorial sea to a limit of 200 nautical miles from the baseline. Within this zone, the coastal State may exercise sovereign rights over exploration, exploitation, conservation, and management of natural resources and other economic activities, such as the production of wind or tidal power.” The areas outside of the EEZs in the Arctic are considered high seas or ABNJ (see definition for ABNJ).
Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC)
Many indigenous people inhabit the Arctic, and they have a wide range of cultural, historical and economic backgrounds. These people have multiple and ever‐increasing contact with non‐indigenous people who, for example, seek to develop natural resources or better understand and address the rapidly changing climate. The relationships between governments, corporations, non‐profit organizations, researchers and indigenous peoples are guided by evolving laws, policies and protocols that are increasingly rooted in an acknowledgement and respect for the autonomous nature of indigenous peoples and indigenous human rights.One of the most important aspects of indigenous relations is the recognition of the right of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) sets out this right and has helped to drive a fundamental shift in indigenous relations. Given the significant impact that climate change is having on the human rights of indigenous peoples in the Arctic, the growing recognition of indigenous rights is particularly important in this region.”
Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO)
HFO is the world’s dirtiest and most polluting ship fuel”, a residual waste product from the oil refining process that resembles tar. Ships use HFO as a fuel because it is relatively cheap, particularly for larger vessels (like containerships and tankers). Combusting HFO produces high levels of pollutants, particulate matter, black carbon, sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide, each of which are linked to an increased risk of heart and lung disease. As Arctic waters become increasingly navigable, more vessels that carry HFO are passing through. Other risks associated with the use of HFO in the Arctic include threats to the food security, livelihoods and way of life of Arctic communities; risks to the Arctic marine environment; and harmful emissions that negatively impact the local and global climate”. Surprisingly, the Polar Code (see definition), which was a set of regulations that imposed stricter regulation for shipping in the Arctic, did not impose bans on the carrying or use of HFO, only discouraging it. Only in April this year did the IMO (see definition) call for the rapid implementation of a ban, set for 2021.
Hydrocarbon exploration, or oil and gas exploration, is becoming increasingly common in the Arctic. The Arctic accounts for around 13 % of the undiscovered oil, 30 % of the undiscovered natural gas, and 20 % of the undiscovered natural gas liquids (see LNG definition) in the world. Because of the harsh conditions present in the Arctic, extracting these hydrocarbons is hugely expensive using conventional means. To make extraction cheaper, oil companies are investing in floating LNG production systems (see LNG definition). Extraction is still significantly more expensive in the Arctic than in a Saudi Arabian desert, for example, but the large reserves in these more conventional sources have been used up, and is still economically viable due to the rising value of fuel. There are multiple risks associated with hydrocarbon exploration in the Arctic: There is no effective method for clearing up an oil spill in ice-infested waters, for example, an oil spill would be devastating to the pristine Arctic biodiversity (see definition).
International Maritime Organizations (IMO)
As a specialized agency of the United Nations, IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.In other words, its role is to create a level playing-field so that ship operators cannot address their financial issues by simply cutting corners and compromising on safety, security and environmental performance. This approach also encourages innovation and efficiency.”
Globally, invasive non-native species are considered the second most important threat to biodiversity after habitat loss. These are species introduced by human activity that flourish and spread in their new environment and threaten native species and ecosystem functions.”With the increase of shipping in the arctic (see definition for shipping), the risk of invasive species entering the pristine arctic ecosystem increases. Ballast water (the water carried in ships for stability) often carries non-native species, which could be released with the discharge of water at ports or during bad weather conditions. Most of the non-native species which are released into the artic environment cannot survive the cold conditions, but with ocean temperatures increasing, the risk of survival for these non-native species becomes higher.
Liquid Natural Gas (LNG)
Due to energy demands and energy insecurity rising globally, oil companies and governments are preparing for Arctic exploration and exploitation. Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) is one of the fossil fuel resources currently being extracted in the Arctic to meet these demands. Russia has very recently opened a $27 billion plant in the Yamal Peninsula within the Arctic Circle that is expected to extract over 16 million tonnes of LNG per year. The plant is set to open in 2019, and represents Russia’s ambition of tapping into the vast hydrocarbon deposits in the Arctic (see definition for hydrocarbon exploration). The Yamal Peninsula is covered by ice for most of the year, with temperatures dipping below – 50 ° C: these are extreme conditions where such a plant has never before been built.
Ozone depleting substances (ODSs)
A significant proportion of the threats to the Arctic environment come from outside the region, including POPs, ozone depleting substances and greenhouse gases (see definitions for POPS and greenhouse gases as well). Ozone depleting substances (ODSs) are those substances which deplete the ozone layer and are widely used in refrigerators, air conditioners, fire extinguishers, in dry cleaning, as solvents for cleaning, electronic equipment and as agricultural fumigants.”(1) The ozone layer is vital in shielding us from levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that are dangerous to human health – increased UV radiation exposure is linked to increased risks of skin cancer and cataract development. Similar health effects have been found in non-human animals: a sharp rise in sun damage in whales has been observed, for example. Although the 1987 Montreal Protocol banned the use of ozone-depleting aerosols such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), they will remain in the atmosphere for some time and continue to damage ozone. (…) Ozone depletion is more pronounced at the poles, although more so over Antarctica due to specific climate conditions there. However under the right conditions, significant ozone depletion can happen in the Arctic as well, but to a lesser extent.” (2)
Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA)
Designation of a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) is a comprehensive management tool at the international level for reviewing attributes within an area that are vulnerable to damage by international shipping and for determining the most appropriate protective measures available through the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to address that vulnerability. To be identified as a PSSA, three elements must be present: (1) the area must have certain attributes (ecological, socio-economic, or scientific); (2) it must be vulnerable to damage by international shipping; and (3) there must be measures that can be adopted by the IMO to protect the attributes of the area from the vulnerability to damage by international shipping. If approved by IMO, the end result will be an area identified as a “Particularly Sensitive Sea Area” and one or more IMO-adopted measures for ships to follow. It is important to note that there is no legal impact of the designation of an area as a PSSA per se; however, the measures that are adopted must have an identified legal basis.”
A significant effect of climate change in the arctic concerns the melting permafrost. Permafrost is a layer of permanently frozen soil which contains massive carbon reserves, covering a quarter of land in the Northern hemisphere. With the increasing temperatures, the permafrost layer is melting resulting in the release of two significant greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane. This triggers a feedback cycle accelerating further warming, causing more permafrost melting, and so on. The release of methane is of particular concern, because it is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. While carbon dioxide has a relatively small and long lasting effect, methane has a large but short term effect: the same mass of gas released in the atmosphere has an impact on temperature that is 28 times greater than carbon dioxide within a 100-year time frame. So far, however, most climate change models do not consider the impact of melting permafrost.
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS)
A significant proportion of the threats to the Arctic environment come from outside the region, including POPs, ozone depleting substances and greenhouse gases (see definitions for ozone depleting substances and greenhouse gases as well). POPS are Persistent Organic Pollutants: toxic chemicals that are produced and consumed outside of the Arctic, yet disproportionately concentrate within the Arctic region. POPs are transported by wind, water, and food cycles making them transient across borders, continents, and ecosystems. Because they are resistant to environmental degradation, they persist for long periods of time in the environment and can accumulate and pass through the food chain. In 2001, 91 countries and the European Community agreed to reduce or eliminate the production of 12 key POPs in the Stockholm Convention. Some well known POPs include PCBs, DDT, and dioxins. While many developed countries have stopped or limited production, many still persist today, are unintentionally released, and are still being produced in developing countries.”While there has been a general decrease in trends for POPs appearing in air and biota over the last 20 or 30 years, the problem is resurfacing due to warming. The POPs that were once trapped under layers of snow and ice are now being released, increasing the risk of exposure to current and future human and animal populations in the Arctic. Exposure to POPs has significant human health effects, by impacting reproductive, developmental, behavioral and neurologic systems and amongst others.
The Polar Code is a mandatory regulation adopted by the IMO (see definition) for ships passing through Arctic and Antarctic waters. The regulation entered into force on the 1st January 2017. Its requirements are more stringent than those of existing IMO conventions such as MARPOL (see Special Areas under MARPOL), imposing prohibitions on the carriage of oil or oily mixtures from any ship into the sea and prevented pollution from garbage and noxious liquid substances”. However, no bans were imposed on the carrying or use of heavy fuel oil (see definition) in the Arctic, despite evidence by the Arctic Council demonstrating that the release of oil either through accidental release, or illegal discharge, is the most significant threat from shipping activity” in the Arctic marine environment.
With sea-ice melting in the arctic and an ever-increasing demand for commodities like oil, gas and diamonds, ship traffic is expected to increase significantly over the next decades. Since 2009, there has been a gradual increase in the number of ships passing through the arctic sea. The first two ships passed through the Northern Sea Route (NSR) in 2009, and in 2013 71 ships passed through. The increase of shipping through the arctic comes with several environmental threats, such as vessel collisions with marine life (see arctic biodiversity), oil or chemical spills, noise pollution and the introduction of non-native species. A study by the Arctic Council (see definition) states that the release of oil into the arctic sea either through accidental release, or illegal discharge, is the most significant threat from shipping activity”. Further ice-melt is expected to make a transpolar North Pole” route completely accessible by around 2050, where more ships are expected to come in, developing off shore extraction.
Special Areas under MARPOL
The IMO (see definition) has defined Special Areas under MARPOL. MARPOL (short for marine pollution) is a convention developed by the IMO to regulate, prevent and minimize pollution of the ocean and seas by ships. They include six technical Annexes: In Annex I Prevention of pollution by oil, Annex II Control of pollution by noxious liquid substances, Annex IV Prevention of pollution by sewage from ships and Annex V Prevention of pollution by garbage from ships, MARPOL defines certain sea areas as “special areas” in which, for technical reasons relating to their oceanographical and ecological condition and to their sea traffic, the adoption of special mandatory methods for the prevention of sea pollution is required. Under the Convention, these special areas are provided with a higher level of protection than other areas of the sea.”
UNCLOS is a major international treaty that was adopted and signed in 1982. It provides rules, principles and guidelines for virtually every ocean use. UNCLOS prescribes EEZs (see definition for EEZ) over which a state has exclusive rights to marine resources. After a state ratifies UNCLOS, they have a 10-year period in which to claim an extended continental shelf area of which they have exclusive rights to. Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark have all filed claims to extend their EEZs.
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At the front line of climate change, the ocean plays a central role in regulating the Earth’s climate - a critical role we must protect for our own sake.
Human population has reached critical mass – It has taken 4.5 billion years for our biosphere to develop and in 4.5 decades we have damaged it perhaps beyond repair.
Deep sea mining
There are sources of minerals in the deep sea but we must first understand how to manage and mitigate the risks that come with extracting them.
Our insatiable demand for plastic has turned this material into an environmental and public health nightmare. The impact affects he creatures of the sea and humans too.