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Arctic resources claim deadline today for Canada – Politics – CBC News

Arctic resources claim deadline today for Canada – Politics – CBC News.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice ahead of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent in the Arctic Ocean. The two ships were taking part in a multi-year, multi-agency Arctic survey that will help define the Arctic continental shelf. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice ahead of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Louis S. St-Laurent in the Arctic Ocean. The two ships were taking part in a multi-year, multi-agency Arctic survey that will help define the Arctic continental shelf. (Petty Officer Patrick Kelley/U.S. Coast Guard/Associated Press)

Today is the deadline for Canada to file scientific evidence to justify its claim to Arctic resources beyond its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

The federal government is being cagey about the submission that it is supposed to file within 10 years of signing the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, an international treaty setting out maritime rules.

“It’s being a really closely held secret. The big thing that everyone is wondering about is how far up the Lomonosov Ridge we’re [Canada] actually going to go,” says University of Calgary professor and Arctic expert Rob Huebert.

The Lomonosov Ridge is an undersea mountain range that runs between Ellesmere Island, Canada’s most northern land mass, and the east Siberian coast in Russia.

The science package that Canada will file with the UN is essentially a series of undersea co-ordinates that map what the government claims is this country’s extended continental shelf. Under Article 76 of the UN maritime treaty, any coastal country can claim rights to the seabed and sub-seabed up to 150 nautical miles beyond its exclusive economic zone.

In one exception, a country can claim beyond 150 nautical miles if there is a ridge that juts out from its extended continental shelf.

Overlapping claims

Canada could potentially have conflicting claims with Denmark on its border with Greenland and with the U.S. in the Beaufort Sea. But the contentious overlap might be with Russia on the Lomonosov Ridge.

Russia presented its claim to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in 2001. That claim ran along the Lomonosov Ridge right up to the North Pole. If Canada has a claim to the Lomonosov Ridge, it could reach 200 nautical miles beyond the pole. That is the halfway point between Canada and Russia.

RUSSIA ARCTIC A titanium capsule with the Russian flag is seen seconds after it was planted by the Mir-1 mini-submarine on the Arctic Ocean seabed under the North Pole during a record dive on Aug. 2, 2007. (Association of Russian Polar Explorers/Associated Press)

The UN commission just judges the science and doesn’t have the power to resolve competing claims. Those have to be resolved state-to-state.

University of Ottawa Russia specialist Ivan Katchanovski doesn’t expect there will be a conflict, even if the Canadian and Russian claims overlap.

“There is potential for significant dispute, but don’t expect this is going to lead to a major confrontation or cold war,” Katchanovski told CBC News.

He argued that such a confrontation would make Russian President Vladimir Putin look weak.

“Putin wants to collaborate with Western powers. He does not want to be treated as a secondary power. He wants to be considered to be equal,” Katchanovski explained. “Any confrontation would be detrimental to the Russian image abroad.”

As for the Danes and Americans, Canada worked closely with both of them on mapping the sea floor. Denmark submitted its claim to the commission in November.

U.S. hasn’t signed treaty

The U.S. situation is a little more complicated. It has yet to ratify the maritime treaty, so it doesn’t have the right to submit a scientific claim to the UN commission.

That hasn’t stopped the Americans from working with Canada, though.

“We get along pretty well with the Canadians, and with respect to the surveying of the extended continental shelf, the two countries found that they could co-operate, and that would be a win-win that would save the taxpayers money,” said John P. Bellinger III, an international law expert and former adviser to the last Bush administration on the treaty.

Bellinger said the U.S. would accept Canada’s submission to the UN commission even if there was overlap, “provided that it does not prejudice the U.S. claim.”

Bellinger did offer one caveat to the government in Ottawa.

“If Canada tries to take the North Pole just before Christmas, I think the United States would be very opposed to that.”

 

Arctic 30: freed Briton urges ‘frank discussions’ about future protests | Environment | theguardian.com

Arctic 30: freed Briton urges ‘frank discussions’ about future protests | Environment | theguardian.com.

Kieron Bryan

Freelance videographer Kieron Bryan being released on bail from a detention centre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Photograph: Liza Udilova/Greenpeace/EPA

There should be frank discussions about future Greenpeace protests following the arrest of activists and journalists in Russia, one of the six Britons freed from detention has said.

 

Freelance journalist Kieron Bryan, one of the Arctic 30 arrested by the Russian authorities over a protest against oil drilling two months ago, said his first trip with the organisation had been a baptism of fire.

 

Greenpeace UK’s executive director, John Sauven, said all those who had been on the Arctic Sunrise vessel had been given a proper briefing about the risks involved and added that the organisation would not be intimidated, although there were no plans for further protest in Russia.

 

The Arctic Sunrise was seized by the Russian authorities and 28 activists and two freelance journalists on board were arrested. All six Britons involved have been granted bail.

 

The group were originally charged with piracy but the authorities said this would be downgraded to hooliganism.

 

Bryan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the group were briefed about the risks before the trip.

 

“We discussed the legal implications of doing a protest in Russia. I remember distinctly piracy being mentioned and the laughter that followed,” he said.

 

“I can’t stress what a shock it was to everyone. We all thought that we would get a rap on the wrists and then be sent away, so to find ourselves facing 10 to 15 years was a very difficult time.”

 

Bryan said Greenpeace should consider the increased political pressure that would apply on future protests relating to oil.

 

He said: “I think there has to be some honest discussion, definitely, and I would love to be part of the discussion with Greenpeace about what happens in future. This was my first trip, so it was a baptism of fire.

 

“But I do think there needs to be some consideration if the changing landscape politically on the global scale … The desire for oil is getting greater and as that happens the political pressure put on people like myself and Greenpeace will increase. So, I hope there are some frank discussions.”

 

Sauven told the programme: “People were given a proper briefing and all the potential issues that could arise were in that briefing.”

 

Asked if the organisation would repeat the protest, Sauven said: “We have got no plans to do that. But … when half the oil spills that happen in the world happen in Russia, should we be silenced? Should we be intimidated? Should journalists not go and report that and expose what’s going on?

 

“This was an entirely peaceful process. We have been going to the Russian arctic for nearly three decades. We’ve been up there campaigning against Russian whaling, we’ve been up there actually in far more challenging situations, even campaigning against Russian nuclear testing when we ran a campaign to get a ban on nuclear testing around the world – a ban that we won, and a ban on whaling that we won.

 

“I hope that we can also protect the Arctic but we are not going to do that if we are intimidated or silent.”

Why the jury’s still out on the risk of Arctic methane catastrophe | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com

Why the jury’s still out on the risk of Arctic methane catastrophe | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com.

 

Shell’s Spill Plans for Arctic Are Upheld by Judge – Bloomberg

Shell’s Spill Plans for Arctic Are Upheld by Judge – Bloomberg.

 

Melting Arctic ice called ‘economic time bomb’ – Canada – CBC News

Melting Arctic ice called ‘economic time bomb’ – Canada – CBC News.

 

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