Shake hands with Russia over the Northwest Passage, says Arctic expert
By Randy Boswell, Postmedia News June 11, 2012 5:03 PM
A leading Canadian expert on polar politics is urging the Russian and Canadian governments to establish and promote a joint position on the legal status of the Northwest Passage and Northern Sea Route — the two main shipping lanes in the increasingly ice-free Arctic Ocean — to reinforce each others' rights to control and profit from international traffic through Arctic waters.
The provocative suggestion from University of British Columbia professor Michael Byers, author of the 2009 book Who Owns The Arctic?, was published Friday in The Moscow Times, Russia's English-language daily newspaper.
Byers' argument also is slated to appear in expanded form in a Russian academic journal.
"The Arctic Ocean's coastline belongs mostly to Russia and Canada, the two largest countries in the world," Byers writes, noting that each claims the polar sea routes as "internal waters" — theoretically requiring foreign vessels to seek formal permission and adhere to certain environmental and other regulations before passing through.
"Russia and Canada face a single, common source of opposition to their claims — namely, the United States, which insists that both the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage are 'international straits,' " Byers notes.
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