Polar Geography, Vol 33, Nos 1-2, 2010, pp. 15-38
The objective of the International Northern Sea Route Program was to create a knowledge bank covering commercial, international shipping on Russia's Northern Sea Route (NSR). Addressed were: considerations of the natural environment, ice navigation, and ship technology; the environment; economics of shipping; and military, political, legal, and indigenous cultural issues. Conclusions included improvements in vessel designs and associated activities represented the safe course for extending navigation. Scientific evidence generally did not exist that civilian navigation had resulted in significant environmental stress; the NSR thus could plan for environmental concerns and avoid devastating impacts. It was necessary for the Russian government to include the NSR in plans for its extractive industries. There were resource commodities well-suited for creating a sustainable cargo flow, but the necessary domestic and foreign investments would have to be provided. The NSR lacked strategic and military importance and held solely civilian, commercial potential. Except for the high seas, the USA would require its commercial vessels to follow the Russian regime, including fees if not discriminatory and for services rendered. For indigenous cultures NSR effects could be both positive and negative; primary was the need to be included in creating the NSR framework and indigenous perspectives viewed and treated equally.