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UiT Norges arktiske universitet

Year: 2019
Project manager: Vito De Lucia
Project code: 922018

The Arctic Ocean (AO) is undergoing dramatic changes due to sea ice melting and the opening of previously inaccessible sea areas. It holds a multitude of unique life forms highly adapted to its extreme seasonal conditions. Considerable and competing interests in the AO have arisen, ranging from shipping and exploitation of living and non-living resources to conservation of the fragile marine ecosystem. Nearly 2,8 million square kilometres of the AO are located in areas beyond the national jurisdiction (ABNJ) of the coastal states and are subject to a new treaty being negotiated at the United Nations (UN) under the Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC) on marine biodiversity in ABNJ (hereinafter BBNJ treaty). Arctic coastal states, however, have consistently declared that the AO should remain under their stewardship and reject the need for a new international regime. Conversely, the EU, many developing nations and environmental NGOs view the AO as a unique global common in need of strong conservation measures and believe that a BBNJ treaty would be the appropriate tool. Taking the BBNJ treaty negotiations as a starting point, the project will analyse the opportunities for AO governance with a view to protecting biodiversity, particularly through marine protected areas (MPAs) and ecosystem-based management (EBM). Various options for the outcome of the negotiations will be assessed against the existing AO governance regimes and the best available scientific knowledge, taking into account the complexities involved in reconciling ecological requirements for effective EBM and the realities of jurisdictional fragmentation.

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