Governing Arctic Seas: Regional Lessons from the Bering Strait and Barents Sea
The first volume involves the Russian Federation as a common denominator with either Norway (oldest multilateral region in the Arctic) or the United States (sharing with Russia the longest maritime boundary in the world) to interpret changes with connected biophysical and socio-economic systems that underscore decisions across a “continuum of urgencies” from security to sustainability time scales. The second and third volumes will emerge from presentations during the annual Arctic Frontiers Conferences in Tromsø, Norway, starting in January 2020. Volume 2 will consider circumstances associated with areas beyond sovereign jurisdictions from Arctic and non-Arctic perspectives, recognizing the international community has unambiguous rights and responsibilities in the Arctic High Seas under the law of the sea. Volume 3 is intended to synthesize insights on a pan-Arctic scale, analogous to the world ocean across all sea zones, involving decisions to achieve ongoing progress with sustainability, coupling governance mechanisms and built infrastructure. Throughout this book series, which we expect to expand beyond the Arctic, science diplomacy will be applied as an international, interdisciplinary, and inclusive (holistic) process, facilitating informed decisionmaking to balance national interests and common interests for the benefit of all on Earth across generations. With holistic integration, this book series will reveal skills, methods, and theory of informed decisionmaking that will continue to evolve, contributing to balance, resilience, and stability that underlie progress with sustainability across our home planet.
This chapter provides a synopsis of the economic dimensions of the Barents Sea Region. It discusses the economic value of different resources, including fisheries and aquaculture, oil and gas development, mining, and tourism, as well as the economic potential of other resources like wave energy and genetic resources in both the Norwegian and Russian components of the Barents Sea Region. The main features of the economies of the Barents Sea Region include: orientation to the development of natural resources (organic and inorganic) and biological resources (fish and sea animals) together with economic activities molded by the traditional way of life of indigenous peoples of the Arctic region and largely aimed at meeting their needs.
Historically, extreme remoteness and cold have left the Bering Strait region sparsely populated and economically undeveloped. Costs are very high and infrastructure is minimal. Economies are undeveloped, and based primarily on mining and government. Population densities are very low. A high proportion of residents are Natives for whom subsistence hunting and fishing remain important sources of food. In the future, environmental, economic, political and technological factors are likely to bring increased economic activity to the region—although the timing and scale of future economic change are difficult to predict. Economic activities most likely to grow include marine transportation; onshore and offshore mineral and hydrocarbon development; land-based and cruise ship tourism; commercial fishing; and government services and infrastructure needed to support economic and population growth. The nature, timing and scale of growth will depend on a wide range of factors including change in ice conditions, the extent of future resource discoveries; and the extent to which governments make development of the region an economic and strategic priority. Significant economic activities in the Bering Strait region for which shared governance issues are currently or likely to become important include marine subsistence, marine transportation, offshore oil and gas development, commercial fishing, and cruise ship tourism.