The northerly corner of the Pacific Ocean shared by Russia, China, North and South Korea and Japan is one of the busiest sea lanes in the world. No less than one quarter of the world’s tanker traffic passes through it daily. Already it has been seriously polluted by major oil spills. For almost ten years now the United Nations Environment Programme has been trying to broker a Regional Seas Agreement between these four countries. Around the world there are 12 such agreements. But none have proved so difficult to achieve as the Northwest Pacific Action Plan. Like the Mediterranean, this is a region that has a recent history of bloody conflicts and deep-seated mistrust. But whereas it took just a year to broker a deal in the Med., it took two years in the North Pacific simply to get an agreement on a name for this body of water: The Sea. In this week’s Earth Report we examine the issues confronting the four countries as they struggle towards an agreement.
Films in this series