The European Union’s potential contribution to protect marine biodiversity in the changing Arctic: a roadmap

Nengye Liu (Lead / Corresponding author), Elizabeth Kirk

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    The European Union is showing increasing interest in the Arctic marine environment, including in the protection of marine biodiversity in the Arctic. Its participation in the 1992 Biodiversity Convention gives it grounds for action. How the EU might actually protect Arctic marine biodiversity is not, however, clear. Climate change is the primary threat to the unique and fragile Arctic ecosystem. It is also already leading to increased human activities, which may bring threats to Arctic marine biodiversity. Threats may arise as a result of, for example, oil pollution, noise pollution and litter from shipping and extractive industries; or fishing interfering with the precise mix of species within the Arctic system, whether through overfishing or otherwise. Increasing human activities on land arising from the need to service the new Arctic industries may also affect the marine environment through, for example land-based pollution.
    These threats potentially provide the EU with fertile ground for action, but some of the international regimes that the EU could influence are likely to provide more fruitful locations for its efforts than others. For example, while the main focus of action vis à vis climate change will be the global climate change regime, the likelihood of success in influencing the development of aspects of the climate change regime to specifically protect marine biodiversity in the Arctic is quite slim. More fruitful opportunities may lie in the global biodiversity regime, shipping, fisheries and offshore oil and gas operations. This article therefore provides a roadmap for possible EU action in these areas.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)255-284
    Number of pages30
    JournalInternational Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2015


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