Richard Page, Greenpeace Oceans campaigner, has written the following reply to ‘Greenpeace – Running With the Arctic Hare and Hunting With Washington Hounds’. (Links added by Changing More Than Lightbulbs.)
Unsurprisingly and, as explained previously, we do not share your analysis of the current situation. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides the international legal framework for the management of the ocean and has delivered many benefits. Remember, before UNCLOS there was a virtual free-for-all. It is true that under UNCLOS, countries are able — within the rules set out by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf — to extend their continental shelves and have rights to minerals on or under the seabed, but our Arctic campaign is clear that with rights come responsibilities and that the Arctic coastal states must act responsibly. The establishment of a sanctuary in the central Arctic Ocean is entirely feasible but is dependent on political will. Our campaign is designed to push the global community to do the right thing.
We of course would not deny that UNCLOS has its shortcomings with respect to the
protection of the marine life of the international waters that lie beyond the EEZ.
Indeed, this is why Greenpeace — together with other members of the High Seas Alliance — is campaigning for a UN High Seas Biodiversity Agreement that would among other things enable the establishment of marine reserves in international waters, mandate the need for Environmental Impact Assessments and Strategic Impact Assessments for all activities being carried out on the high seas and include an equitable access and benefit sharing mechanism with regards to marine genetic resources. Such an agreement, similar to the fish stocks agreement, would address many of the current gaps and would enable
countries to live up to their World Summit on Sustainable Development and Convention on Biodiversity commitments with regard to establishing a global network of marine protected areas and reserves.
Establishing a global network of marine reserves is essential if we are to safeguard the
health of our oceans and a sanctuary in the high Arctic would be a crucial component in
such a future network.
It’s important to note that Greenpeace campaigns for the establishment of such marine
reserves all over the world, in national waters, international waters and areas where
territorial claims or continental shelf claims exist — the proposed sanctuary in the
Arctic Ocean is no different.