The Sea of Okhotsk is not only an important source for rich marine resources as the exclusive economic zones for Russia and Japan, but also for neighboring Asian countries such as China and Mongolia that do not share direct boundaries with the Sea. Moreover, since the Sea lies in the southern boundary of the seasonal sea ice in the northern hemisphere and affected by the warm and cold currents, it is home to a distinct ecosystem and has evolved into a rich biodiversity.
With the progress in scientific research in recent years, it has been revealed that the primary production and the biodiversity that depends on the Sea of Okhotsk and the neighboring Oyashio region is greatly affected by and mutually dependent on not only the sea waters but also land. Amongst these, the largest river that flows into the Sea of Okhotsk, the Amur River, supplies a great amount of dissolved iron to both the Sea of Okhotsk and the Oyashio sea waters, which contributes to the high primary production of these sea waters. This discovery has been made by our research efforts that identified the physical and biological linkage between the land-surface environment on a continental scale and the open seas. In other words, the Sea of Okhotsk and the neighboring Oyashio region as well as the Amur River form an enormous ecosystem that transcends the boundaries between sea and land. It is a special and great concern for countries of the Amur River region and for the countries neighboring the Sea of Okhotsk to identify the unique mechanism of the ecosystem and to consider the future of the natural environment of the Amur-Okhotsk ecosystem.
In recent years, various human activities in the Northeast Asian region have resulted in the deterioration of the water quality of the Amur River and there are concerns about the effect this will have on the natural environment of the Sea of Okhotsk. We researchers will pay significant attention to evaluating how such human activities will affect the nature of the Sea of Okhotsk in the future. Moreover, we have also reached a common understanding that in order to ensure the sustainable development of this region we must deepen our academic knowledge on the research, conservation and the rational and sustainable use of the ecosystem of the concerned region.
The region of the Sea of Okhotsk and the natural environment of the Amur River Basin shares borders with the 4 countries of China, Japan, Mongolia and Russia, therefore, the cooperation among these countries is significantly important for the conservation of this region. Up until now, at the governmental level, various bilateral frameworks for environmental cooperation among China, Japan, Mongolia and Russia have been implemented. However, currently there are no multilateral frameworks agreed upon among these countries. Therefore, even at the researchers’ level there are no sufficient sharing of information and not enough opportunity to reach a common recognition of what the problems are. Thus, we researchers that share a common understanding will voluntarily participate in discussions of the problems taking into consideration the range and scope of the bilateral frameworks and the rights and obligations in international law, while paying full respect to the domestic legal obligations of each country. We have also come to a common recognition of the necessity to cooperate in terms of research and actions to discuss the possibilities and effectiveness of common use of information while sharing and exchanging information and opinion on a regular basis concerning what is necessary and what must be done for the conservation of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Amur River Basin.
Based on the background mentioned above, the Amur Okhotsk Consortium was established in November 8, 2009 on the occasion of International symposium on “Environmental Conservation of the Sea of Okhotsk: cooperation between Japan, China and Russia” held in Sapporo, Japan. Through full two-days discussion on various environmental problems in the Amur River basin and the Sea of Okhotsk, all of the participants of the symposium agreed to accept “the Joint Declaration by Researchers towards the Environmental Conservation of the Sea of Okhotsk and Surrounding Regions” in the end of the symposium and decided to launch the Amur Okhotsk Consortium.
The Joint Declaration