Russian scientists propose establishing nature protection zones in the Arctic
Russian scientists have made a proposal to establish special nature protection zones in the Arctic and update the list of endangered Arctic fauna, according to Vyacheslav Zilanov, academician in the International Academy of Environmental and Life Protection Sciences, at a round table, International Cooperation in the Arctic: Present and Future.
"We need to establish nature protection zones in which oil and gas prospecting will not be allowed, notwithstanding our respect for the oil and gas industry," Mr. Zilanov said to TASS. "The Murmansk Biology Institute and the Polar Research Institute, together with industry representatives […] have presented this proposal to some government circles, and we hope that it will be approved," he said.
He noted that special efforts are needed to protect some animal species, in particular polar bears and narwhals, during Arctic development. He also proposed updating the list of endangered species in light of changing economic activity and the conditions it brings, and said that there are many species in the Chukchi Sea that need protection.
"Russia has stopped fishing for marine mammals," he said. "I do not agree with all of these provisions. The seal population in the White Sea has grown too large now, and the region's inhabitants had longstanding traditions [of seal hunting]. The number of seals has increased, and they are competing with the fishing industry now and creating a burden on fish resources," he said.
Mr. Zilanov said that Russia has the longest Arctic zone and therefore also the greatest treasure trove of bio-resources and this gives Russia particular responsibility for preserving species diversity in the Arctic.