Rouhani Gov’t Will Implement Caspian Accord

Rouhani Gov’t  Will Implement Caspian Accord   Rouhani Gov’t  Will Implement Caspian Accord

President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday instructed the Agriculture Ministry to enforce the measures outlined in an international agreement that aim to promote sustainable use of the Caspian Sea and protect its marine life.

The intergovernmental agreement was signed and adopted in September 2014 in Astrakhan, Russia, by the heads of states of the five littoral countries (Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Russia) during the Fourth Caspian Summit. It calls on all parties to improve the living conditions of sturgeons in the Caspian Sea, develop natural and artificial reproduction of fish resources and curb illegal fishing.

The Caspian Sea is in critical condition with oil tankers alone dumping over 120,000 tons of pollutants annually.

Despite discovering two major oil fields in the sea, Iran has yet to begin extracting the so-called ‘black gold’, meaning most of the oil pollution in the region is caused by other countries’ activities.

Even though the agreement allows for the exploitation of the Caspian resources, “the conservation of all marine life takes precedence over commercial use,” President Rouhani said in a letter to the ministry, ISNA reported.

The agreement was approved by the Majlis on January 25 and ratified by the Guardian Council on March 14.

A joint commission comprising one representative from each country will be formed to oversee the implementation of the deal across the five states.

 Major Step

The accord is a major step in protecting the sea against unsustainable use of its resources and its struggle with pollution, especially oil.

Furthermore, it may help pave the way to finally put to bed the long-disputed legal status of the Caspian Sea. There is still no international agreement about whether to class the Caspian as a sea or a lake — and that leaves the extent of territorial waters and sharing formula rather vague. However, this agreement indicates that it is possible for the stakeholders to reach a compromise and lay the issue to rest.

If the Caspian Sea gains the status of a lake, its waters will be equally divided into five zones, while being classified as a sea gives each of the five countries the right to exploit the resources in the territorial waters, the amount of which will depend on the length of its coastline.

If the latter happens, Iran stands to lose because it has the shortest coastline among the five countries, while Kazakhstan has the longest.

With a surface area of 371,000 km2, the Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on earth.