The law, which lays down regulations on shipping along the increasingly popular Arctic route, states that the route in the west officially stretches from the eastern coast of the Novaya Zemlya, the Kara Gate and the straits between the mainland and the island of Vaigach. In the east, the route includes the areas from the Russian-U.S. sea border and the latitude of the Cape Dezhnev, the easternmost point on Russian territory, RIA Novosti reports.
The regulations, consequently, do not include the Barents Sea and the Pechora Sea, both of them waters, which are expected a hike in shipping and industrial activities over the next years. Both Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, Russia’s two main Arctic cities, are located outside the new definition of the Northern Sea Route territory.
The new law, which was adopted by the State Duma in a third reading Tuesday, will come into force in 2013.
Among the rules for vessels operating in the area are new insurance requirements, which are to enhance ship owners’ responsibility for possible environmental damage and pollution. The law also outlines the level of shipping fees, although not very concretely, saying that the rates on icebreaker assistance will be provided based on the “extent of the services offered”.
Included in the law is also the establishment of a new Northern Sea Route administration, which is to manage icebreaker and sailing master services, as well as provide radio communication and hydrographic information, organize search and rescue operations and prepare preparedness meaures on emergency situations. According to Bellona.ru, the Russian Finance Ministry is allocating 27 million RUB (€660.000) for the new administration.
The new law is a long-awaited and much-needed piece of legislation. However, critics say that it insufficiently addresses the environmental challenges in the vulnerable area. According to Igor Kudrik from the Bellona Foundation, a major oil spill in the remote area will have huge environmental consequences for nature, and financial consequences for the shipping company. “If the shipping operators are to bear all costs related to spills, the route might ultimately not be so popular, after all”, he says.
A step-by-step increase up to SEK 5,5 billion will be added to the annual defense budget following the Ukraine crisis. The cash will partly come by cutting spending on environment and nuclear safety cooperation with Russia.
The president warns against hostile action and terrorism in the Arctic and says regional oil installations must be protected. At the same time, he signs a law, empowering oil companies to establish their own armed forces.
MURMANSK: Ecological groups gathered on Kola Peninsula fear that Barents nature will be the looser after Oslo decided to call off the environmental minister’s Moscow meeting in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
TROMSØ: Since the first five specimens of snow crab were found in the Barents Sea in 1996, the population has exploded. There is now ten times as much snow crab than king crab in the area, and scientists are just starting to find out how this new species has adopted to life in the Barents Sea.
More than 900 reindeer die of hunger on the Russian Arctic island of Kolguyev following a critical lack of available local pasturelands. The reindeer stocks in the area are too badly managed, regional authorities admit.
Three days processing of visa-applications is history. “Always apply at least 15 days prior to scheduled departure. Our processing time is 10 days,” says Marit Egholm Jacobsen, head of the visa section at Norway’s Consulate General in Murmansk.
Board member Amund Trellevik in the press network fears entry-denial of Kremlin’s controversial propaganda-journalist Dmitry Kiselyov could be retaliated by refusing Norwegian journalists access to Russia.