United Nations Development Programme

Russian Federation

Moscow, June 9 – RIA Novosti.

Russia needs to significantly expand its network of marine protected areas (MPAs). Environmentalists say that these areas need to be created particularly in the Black, Caspian, and Okhotsk Seas. "First of all (such sites must be created) on the Black Sea ... We have the Utrish Reserve, for example, that protects a very small strip of sea. In fact, there should be much larger MPA at Utrish,” said Vasily Spiridonov, an expert from the UNDP / GEF project "Strengthening the Marine and Coastal Protected Areas of Russia", speaking at the World Ocean Day meeting.

Besides, it is also necessary to preserve the unique ecosystem and archeological sites at Taman Bay, Spiridonov said. "It is virtually the only place left in Russia, where the entire shallow-water marine ecosystem exists through sea grass," highlighted Spiridonov.

A representative of the UN Development Programme stated that, among other territories, protected areas should be created, in particular, in the Sea of Okhotsk, as well as in the delta of the Kuban and around Sakhalin Island, where such sites already exist, but do not function as expected or are simply inadequate. "In fact, all that we have in the Okhotsk Sea is only a sea part of the Magadan Nature Reserve, which, however, encompasses a truly valuable site, and a nature sanctuary island of Talan," said Spiridonov.

The General Director of Wildlife Conservation, Alexey Zimenko, added that the Black Sea is now “the most developed sea, which, however, does not have a single MPA.” Additionally, protection is needed in the Caspian Sea, he said. "In the Caspian Sea (protection) is quite insufficient; it is also a priority, because there is a very active exploration there, and almost no protection." Zimenko noted that for a country such as Russia that depends heavily on its seas, there is very little attention paid to the protection of marine ecosystems.

"The sea is a factory of our climate, and stability of our climate ... is largely due to the fact that we have quite a huge coastline, and, accordingly, our country is washed by the vast territory of the seas," said the expert. According to Zimenko, in contrast to terrestrial reserves and national parks, "our MPAs are completely worthless, because they absolutely do not represent vast marine biodiversity that our country is fated to own in seas."

He also noted that the coasts, being very special ecological zones, must be treated as "national capital" and that they "shall in no case be treated with such yardsticks of economic management, as, for example, in the Moscow suburbs. Principles and technologies of inland resource management are, as a rule, not suitable to the coasts."

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