Russia and US negotiate fishing industry in Bering Sea

It is not in Russia's interests to denounce the US-Russian agreement on maritime delimitation in the Bering and Chukotsky seas, which was signed by Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and US Secretary of State James Baker in June 1990. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced today by Director of the North Atlantic Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Igor Nazarov in the Russian Federation Council. 'If Russia decided to reject this agreement it would have a negative political impact in the Far East and it would also have a bad effect on US-Russian relations in general,' he stressed.

However, Mr Nazarov continued, the agreement carries negative economic consequences for Russia, especially for the Russian fishing industries. Over the 1991-2003 period Russia has missed out on about 1.6-2 million tons of fish in those regions of the Bering sea where Russia now has no jurisdiction, the official said. The economic losses stand at about USD 1.8-2.2 billion. However, according to Mr Nazarov, information that hydrocarbon reserves have been found in the US region has not been confirmed. 'The Americans did some prospecting in the Bering Sea in the nineteen eighties but there was no positive result,' he stressed. 'They did not find any reserves there.'

At present, the Russian Foreign Ministry is negotiating with the US about compensating Russian fishermen for the losses they incurred after profitable fishing areas in the sea were handed over to the US. 'The US is proposing that we concentrate on working together to protect the fish and marine life,' he said. 'We have nothing against this although we are also insisting that the issue of compensation is resolved.'

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