Arctic coast guards pledge co-operation

2015-10-31 00:22
An ice floe floats on a lake in front of the Solheimajokull glacier, where the ice has retreated by more than 1km since annual measurements began in 1931. (Thibault.Camus.AP)

An ice floe floats on a lake in front of the Solheimajokull glacier, where the ice has retreated by more than 1km since annual measurements began in 1931. (Thibault.Camus.AP)

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New London - Coast guard leaders from the US, Russia and other Arctic nations on Friday pledged to strengthen co-operation in response to safety and environmental concerns as warming temperatures open new waterways in northern seas.

With human activity increasing dramatically in the Arctic, the leaders of eight nations' maritime agencies gathered over three days at the US Coast Guard academy in New London before formally establishing the Arctic Coast Guard Forum.

The US Coast Guard commandant, Admiral Paul Zukunft, noted the presence of his Russian counterpart, Adm. Yuri Alekseyev, despite tensions between the two countries. He said the agreement represents how seriously member nations view safety of life at sea and protecting against dangers such as oil spills.

"We have an opportunity to lay out a strategic framework for the Arctic and to make it a region that focuses on humanitarian concerns; on environmental concerns; on the way of life of indigenous tribes and not as a war-fighting domain," he said in a news briefing.

Implement agreements

"An area that we can work with as a team and not as adversaries."

As the planet warms, waterways through the Northwest Passage above Canada and Russia have opened during summer months, funnelling more ship traffic through the Bering Strait. The region also holds trillions of dollars' worth of oil and gas reserves and many have warned of a new battleground for resources emerging in the 21st century.

A total of eight countries - Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the US - set up the forum.

The new organisation will help implement agreements of the Arctic Council, which comprises the same member countries, but also make its own decisions and plans concerning Arctic operations.

Read more on:    us  |  global warming

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