Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 177

177 Arctic Yearbook 2015 economic patterns (Costello, Springborn, McAusland & Solow 2007; Ruiz, Fofonoff, Carlton, Wonham & Hines 2000). Presently, such impacts are coming to the Arctic in concert with climatic changes. Northern ecosystems can, in general, be characterized as “native” sink host destinations for invaders since the continuous climatic warming shift ecosystems away from the equator and towards the poles, with Arctic waters presenting the northernmost marine ecosystem that northward-moving species can reach. Meanwhile, climate change, together with a series of other parameters, has contributed to significant transformation of the Arctic environment, so that distinction between a “New,” more open and integrated Arctic system, and an “Old,” ice-defended and more ecologically pristine Arctic, is being increasingly adopted. The transition has the potential for significant negative environmental and ecological side effects, not least of which are intr oductions of invasive species with noticeable and potentially irreversible impacts. The Old Arctic’s colder temperatures have generally fended off negative impacts on ecosystem services of such introductions, including reductions in productive ecological capacity due to pathogens, parasites, microbes or other disease carriers. The ecological and economic characteristics of the New Arctic, and its success in sustaining human and natural habitats, will depend on the ability to adapt basic tenets of precaution in multiple dimensions. These tenets include costly activities such as (potentially incomplete) inspections of traded goods and vessels or quarantines for pathogens in disease prevention. According to the Precautionary Principle as defined in the Rio Declaration in Principle 15 (UNEP 1992), in cases of threats for serious or irreversible damage, cost-effective measures for preventing environmental degradation shall not be postponed in view of lack of full scientific certainty, urging states to apply the precautionary approach “according to their capability.” This expression has been widely criticized in the literature as rather weak, incomplete, and ambiguous from both an environmental and a legal perspective. The ITLOS Seabed Dispute Chamber released an advisory opinion according to which the Precautionary Principle in Rio’s Declaration was not regarded as binding, but since it was already “incorporated into a growing number of international treaties and other instruments,” a “trend towards making this approach part of customary international law” evolved (ITLOS 2011). Interdependencies between countries in the dynamically changing Arctic environment hold a prominent position in determining the future of marine invasions and thus cannot be overlooked. They add significant complexity to the situation, attributable to the multiple confounders they bring along. Certain Arctic marine invasions clearly display the interplay of ecology and economic behavior. Invasive crustacean species, for example, have pitted potential economic gains against other predominantly negative though uncertain ecological impacts/changes. The Red King Crab (RKC) Paralithodes camtschaticus is probably the most well-known example of a deliberately introduced species leading to invasion. Originally introduced in the Barents Sea by Soviet Union scientists in the 1960s (Orlov & Ivanov 1978) with the intent to create a profitable new resource for fisheries, it was only identified years afterwards as a potential threat for benthic diversity and biomass and thus for habitats and nutrient cycling in the Arctic marine environment (Falk-Petersen, Renaud & Anisimova 2011). In a conceptual framework and always within the geopolitical context, one of the reasons why joint management of resources is considered of utmost significance when it comes to invasions is the fact that the exclusion and control of those invasive species can be considered as a “weakest-link” or Kourantidou, Kaiser & Fernandez