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Friday, 08 April 2016 10:26

Shipping in the Arctic - the way to the Russian-American cooperation

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Russia and the United States have a common interest in preserving the openness of shipping routes and also reducing the level of uncertainty and risk. Arctic Waters - not the place for ill-equipped vessels, which represent a danger to themselves and to others, exhausting search and rescue resources of coastal states. At the same time, the Arctic route opens new possibilities with a view to enhance economic efficiency and in accordance with the principle of freedom of navigation at sea.

Russia and the United States are pursuing in the Arctic similar interests and collaborate on a variety of areas related to Arctic shipping and other issues. The most influential international forum on the Arctic is the Arctic Council. In 2009 it was prepared a review "Evaluation of Maritime Navigation in the Arctic", which at the moment is the most comprehensive document on the subject. In addition, the Arctic Council has led the development of agreements on "Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic" and "On cooperation in the field of preparedness and response to marine pollution by oil in the Arctic." Both of these documents are aimed at ensuring the safety of people and the environment at the expense of international relations and cooperation. Both Russia and the United States are aware of what benefit promises the development of Arctic fields, and conduct oil and minerals on its Arctic territories. Both countries are also aware of the difficulties and risks associated with any development of the Arctic on a commercial scale, and how important it is to reduce the level of risk to ensure business continuity and to protect the environment.

In recent years, Russia and the United States have developed a national strategy in the field of development of the region, with both documents are remarkably similar. In both states the maintenance of peace and stability in the Arctic and its readiness for bilateral and multilateral cooperation; both emphasized the need to ensure the protection of Arctic ecosystems and resources, preserve the traditional way of life of indigenous peoples and other inhabitants of the Arctic; both focuses on the creation of a unified information system to promote a more active exchange of information in both the scientific and the administrative sphere.

Russia and the United States share not only similar aspirations in the field of Arctic exploration. These countries have a long experience of cooperation in the area of the Bering Sea and the Bering Strait, especially in the field of search and rescue, fisheries conservation and protection of the environment. Russia and the United States provide for reciprocal enforcement of international agreements on fisheries in international waters of the Bering Sea. Between them there is an agreement on the division established by the International Whaling Commission quotas for aboriginal fishing gray and bowhead whales in the Bering and Chukchi seas. In October 1988, when three gray whales stranded in the ice near Point Barrow (Alaska), he came to the rescue of a Russian icebreaker - it struck the ice channel on which whales could come out into the open sea and escape. In December 2011, the US Coast Guard icebreaker and a Russian oil tanker ice-class conducted a joint operation on the delivery of the required fuel in freezing town Nome (Alaska).

Russia and the United States are leading members of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in the area of commercial shipping regulations, in particular, shall take an active part in the work of the sea on the Safety Committee and the Marine Environment Protection Committee. Through their activities in the framework of the IMO has developed a number of international conventions that enhance the safety of commercial shipping and reduce the risk of pollution of the marine environment. The most significant of these are the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). At present, Russia and the United States support the work of the IMO on the codification of the rules of safety of operation of ships at both poles (Polar Code) with possible amendments to the SOLAS and MARPOL regulations to give them binding.

Taking into account the existing experience can identify a number of potential areas of Russia and the US co-operation to achieve common goals and solutions to common problems related to shipping in the Arctic, for example:

  • allocation of resources to update the hydrographic data and nautical charts improvements;
  • improving the exchange of information in the field of security between the Russian Federation and the United States;
  • building capacity to respond to emergencies, including the concentration of towing rescue facilities in areas with increased risk or high significance;
  • exercises in order to develop oil spill response, and verify the effectiveness of the agreement "On cooperation in the field of preparedness and response to marine pollution by oil in the Arctic";
  • introduction of requirements for communication and alert in order to increase the efficiency of monitoring movement of vessels, reducing the level of risk, and ensure compliance with relevant regulations crews operating in the Arctic, in order to maintain the safety of navigation;
  • cooperation in the introduction of voluntary measures to ensure safe navigation in the Bering Strait.

Russia and the United States have a long experience of practical cooperation on Arctic exploration, especially in the Bering Strait, through which the maritime boundary between the two states. Cooperation in the field of Arctic shipping may be based on the history of their relationship with a view to the proper development of the region and its natural resources, protection of coastal areas and their populations, carry out the tasks set out in the framework of the Arctic strategy of the two countries, and enhance the confidence of shipowners safe crossing the waters of the Arctic.


Source: http://russiancouncil.ru/inner/?id_4=4805#top-content

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