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Legal Instruments for Marine Sanctuary in the High Arctic

Department of International Relations, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA
Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law, University of Lapland, Yliopistonkatu 8, Rovaniemi 96300, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Frank Pasquale
Received: 14 December 2015 / Revised: 6 April 2016 / Accepted: 15 April 2016 / Published: 5 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law and Sustainability)
Full-Text   |   PDF [220 KB, uploaded 5 May 2016]


In response to heightened threat to Arctic marine biodiversity due to polar ice melt, the following paper seeks to use qualitative secondary research to analyze existing anthropogenic threat to Arctic marine life and to evaluate current efforts on the part of the Arctic Council to protect biodiversity through a network of state-created marine protected areas (MPAs). We conclude that the current method for MPA creation fails to offer adequate pathways for creation of MPAs in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ), the high seas which fall beyond individual countries’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs). Thus, our central research question is to determine what legal basis and mechanisms exist for the creation of MPAs in ABNJs, with particular focus on the Arctic marine environment. In keeping with The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity’s (UNCBD) precautionary approach, along with specific rules embodied within The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), we find a basis for creation of MPAs in the ABNJ. The text evaluates findings from the Boulogne-sur-Mer international conference of 2011 to suggest that such MPA creation in ABNJ could be approached via four pathways: regional agreement, UNCLOS implementing agreement, UNCBD additional protocol, or an Arctic Sanctuary modeled on the Antarctic Treaty. While we explore all four options, we argue that, due to geopolitical constraints, a comprehensive regional agreement offers the best path to High Arctic MPA creation. View Full-Text
Keywords: Arctic; ABNJ; biodiversity; MPAs; Sanctuary; exclusive economic zone Arctic; ABNJ; biodiversity; MPAs; Sanctuary; exclusive economic zone
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Morris, K.; Hossain, K. Legal Instruments for Marine Sanctuary in the High Arctic. Laws 2016, 5, 20.

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