The Contribution of Space Technologies to Arctic Policy Priorities

1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Policy Implications Sovereignty

One of the most powerful features of UNCLOS is that it settled the question of the extent of national sovereignty over the oceans and seabed. Parts II, V, VI, and VII establish the various regions of the oceans, who has sovereignty over each, and to what degree (e.g. for international navigation, submarine cables, exploitation of natural resources, installations and structures). UNCLOS provides some general provisions with respect to safety of maritime operations and rescue, and for the prevention of harm to human health (e.g. with respect to pollution). Article 234 allows Arctic states to adopt and enforce non-discriminatory laws and regulations for the prevention, reduction, and control of marine pollution from vessels operating in ice-covered waters within the EEZ. Although UNCLOS is not an environmental treaty, it frequently addresses environmental concerns. In addition to having an entire section dedicated to the protection and preservation of the marine environment (Part XII), the treaty also contains numerous references to environmental duties and obligations throughout its many articles. Article 192: States have an obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment. On pollution in general, UNCLOS requires nations 1) to prevent, reduce and control pollution in the marine environment from land-based sources, seabed activities (drilling/mining), dumping, vessels, from or through the atmosphere, 2) to notify of imminent danger to the marine environment from pollution or actual damage from pollution, 3) to observe and evaluate the risks posed by pollution to the marine environment , 4) to monitor the effects of any activities that they permit or engage in, and 5) to prevent the transference of pollution to another nation, or from turning one type of pollution into another. The prohibition on changing one pollutant into another may have impacts on future carbon mitigation schemes such as water-column carbon sequestration or sub-seabed sequestration. Fishing in the EEZ: Coastal states are required to maintain the existing fish stock and protect it from over-exploitation – there are special provisions for straddling stocks, migratory species. Fishing on the high seas: all nations have a duty to take measures to ensure the conservation of living resources on the high seas. States shall cooperate to conserve marine mammals. Biodiversity: States need to take measures to prevent the introduction of alien species that may cause significant and harmful changes to the local environment. The treaty addresses a number of provisions with respect to economic rights. Article 193: States have the sovereign right to exploit their natural resources (living and non-living) pursuant to their environmental policies. It regulates payments and contributions with respect to the exploitation of the continental shelf beyond 200 M The treaty also provides provisions for marine scientific research UNCLOS calls for technology transfers and wealth transfers from developed to undeveloped nations



Economic Development

Indigenous and Social Development

Capability to yy Monitor traffic and other human activities, installations, structures yy Communication at sea yy Detect pollution (+source of pollution) yy Monitoring and environmental assessment of o Risks or effects of pollution o Assessment of potential effects of activities o Pollution (land-based sources, seabed activities, dumping, vessels, atmosphere yy Monitor, control and surveillance (MCS) of fish stocks, migratory species, fishing, overfishing, marine mammals, alien species

Capability Requirements

yy Monitor ice drift and thickness yy Assess marine environment yy Derive Sediment thickness and morphology of the seabed (article 76)

Information on yy Human activities, structures and installations yy Marine environment yy Fish stocks, species, marine mammals, alien and migratory species yy Distribution of marine ecosystem, species yy Pollution and its effects yy Seafloor morphology, bathymetry and sediment thickness on the ocean floor (gravity) yy Distribution of non-living resources

Information Requirements


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