The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with foreign ministers of the five Arctic Ocean coastal states—Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States—in Chelsea, Quebec on March 29.
“By virtue of our sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in large parts of the Arctic Ocean, we are in a unique position to address new opportunities and challenges in the region,” said Minister Cannon. “We are committed to doing so within the extensive international legal framework that applies to the Arctic Ocean. Our citizens and northern inhabitants expect us to continue to show leadership on Arctic issues, and that is what we are doing. We are not reacting to change but shaping it. This meeting provided an opportunity for a forward-looking discussion among states with unique interests and responsibilities for the stewardship of the Arctic Ocean.”
Following the meeting, Minister Cannon released the Chair’s Summary and, at a closing press conference, summarized some of the meeting’s highlights, including the following:
• Arctic Ocean coastal states reaffirmed their commitment to the orderly resolution of any possible overlapping claims and will continue to cooperate closely in the scientific and technical work needed to delineate the outer limits of their respective continental shelves.
• Recognizing the potential impact of a changing environment on public safety issues, Arctic Ocean coastal states are working toward a legally binding Arctic search and rescue agreement through the Arctic Council. They are also pursuing a mandatory regime to make shipping in the Arctic waters safer through the International Maritime Organization.
• Arctic Ocean coastal states discussed the central importance of scientific research to better understand the dynamics of the region, especially as it relates to natural resource development and fisheries.
• Arctic Ocean coastal states recognized that, managed sustainably, the immense resource potential of the Arctic Ocean will contribute to regional economic and social development. As a result, they are committed to implementing the Arctic Council’s Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines to ensure the protection of the Arctic marine environment during development.
• Additionally, Arctic Ocean coastal states agreed on the value of creating an Arctic regional hydrographic commission to enhance understanding of the features of oceans and their coasts for safe navigation.