International (global and regional) agreements and conventions are of major importance in order to control and reduce the amount of pollution to the Barents Sea. These agreements include regulation of activities and restrictions of use and/or bans of hazardous substances. For more information on applied conventions and agreements see electronic appendix on www.barentsportal.com.
One of the most important conventions is the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which both Norway and Russia have adopted. It entered into force in 1994 and lays down fundamental international rules for all maritime activity. It constitutes the overall legal framework for activities in and management of the Barents Sea. The convention establishes rights and duties that apply to both Norway and Russia as coastal states regarding protection of the environment, jurisdiction over maritime transport and utilization of living resources as well as petroleum- and energy resources.
In accordance with the Law of the Sea the states have a duty to preserve and protect the marine environment. To reach this goal the states should implement the measures which are necessary and in accordance with the convention. States are especially invited to cooperate both globally and regionally when formulating international rules, standards and recommendations with regard to the protection of the marine environment. In the North East Atlantic there is e.g. active regional cooperation under the auspices of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR). OSPAR’s mission is to conserve marine ecosystems and safeguard human health in the North-East Atlantic by preventing and eliminating pollution, by protecting the marine environment from the adverse effects of human activities, and by contributing to the sustainable use of the seas. OSPAR’s Region 1 covers the Norwegian and Russian part of the Barents Sea. So far, the Russian Federation is not a party to OSPAR.
One of the first global conventions to protect the marine environment from human activities is the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter from 1972, also known as the London Convention. Its objective is to promote the effective control of all sources of marine pollution and to take all practicable steps to prevent pollution of the sea by dumping of wastes and other matter. Norway and the Russian Federation are both parties to this Convention.
As longe-range transport of persistent organic pollutants and certain metals from the rest of the world is the most important pollution-related pressure on the Barents Sea, international convention and agreements concerning reduction in use and bans of hazardus subastances are of major importance. The Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution and the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is an important global convention regulating and/or banning the use of the most hazardous POPs.