Uniqueness: Russia’s expanding its sphere of ocean influence

Russia won’t cooperate on maritime issues

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Russia won’t cooperate on maritime issues

Neill, World Ocean Observatory, 13

[Peter, contributed to organizations devoted to marine affairs, education, and culture. He was President of the South Street Seaport Museum from 1985-2004. He is a past President of the Council of American Maritime Museums and the International Congress of Maritime Museums He is a co-founder of The Sound School, New Haven, CT., and The Harbor School, New York, NY, two innovative public high schools that use the marine environment as a context for teaching and learning., August 8, The World Post: A partnership between The Huffington Post and Berggruen Institute of Governance, “Russia in the Ocean World,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-neill/russia-in-the-ocean-world_b_3720518.html, accessed July 9, 2014, EK]

In the Baltic region today, for example, there is a growing concern over the impact of this inter-regional trade on the sea itself where the amount of hazardous materials being shipped, along with oil and other toxic spills, have engendered a growing eutrophication, a major disruption of the ecosystem through increasing numbers of algal blooms, turbidity, oxygen depletion, and a resultant lifeless sea floor. Tourism suffers as coastal beaches are closed. Regulations have been proposed to limit nitrogen and phosphorus loads in Baltic waters. The EU is proposing guidelines and regulations for management of these problems, but seems uncertain as to Russian response to its invitation for cooperation, "based on mutual trust, equality, and shared interests," a necessary affinity and cooperation if these initiative are to succeed.

Their optimism might be challenged by Russia's recent behavior regarding environmental issues in Antarctica, a place many thousands of miles distant from more developed regional interests. In mid-July 2013, at a meeting in Germany, the International Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources was surprised and disappointed by Russian opposition to two proposals, one by New Zealand and the United States, and a second by the EU, France, and Australia, both to designate large tracts of that ocean off-limits for almost all activities, including oil and gas exploration and commercial fishing; in effect declaring an expanded marine protected area and habitat sanctuary for scientific research and protection of Antarctic whales, fish, and penguins. Russia challenged the Commission's legal authority for such an action, and, since approval requires consensus, the proposal failed or was at best delayed.

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