* All information on changes in navigational conditions in the NSR area, as well as changes or additions to the present Regulations, is promulgated by the MOH via radio stations in Dikson, Amderma, Tiksi, Pevek and Shmidta.
* Vessel masters who neglected the warning information (PRIP) on coastal areas issued by the Ministry of Defense cannot later allege unpredictable circumstances if they find themselves in difficult situations.
* Even when navigating without icebreaker or ice pilot, in clear water or open ice that does not hinder navigation, vessel masters must not deviate considerably from the recommended route. If the ship's command commits an unauthorized deviation from the recommended route, and as a result the vessel encounters a difficult situation because of heavy ice, shallow water, or for other reasons, the vessel master should not expect the quick and timely assistance of an icebreaker, airplane, helicopter and the MOH.
4.3.6 Evaluation in Terms of International Law
The Russian government's regulations on shipping in the NSR have been deserving of criticism in terms of international laws. Although Russia's territorial waters conform to the interpretation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982 as a distance from shore of 12NM, key problems arise in the legal interpretation of the right of passage through the various straits of the NSR. Due to the inherent vagueness of UNCLOS Article 234, it would be difficult to argue that the Russian practice is excessive. The United States claims that the ice-covered straits of the NSR are international and subject to the right of transit passage, while Russia claims them as internal waters under several theories of international law. In this section we introduce some of these contentious legal issues.
UNCLOS, Article 234
Article 234 of UNCLOS states that "Coastal States have the right to adopt and enforce non-discriminatory laws and regulations for the prevention, reduction and control of marine pollution from vessels in ice-covered areas within the limits of the exclusive economic zone, where particularly severe climate conditions and the pressure of ice covering such areas for most of the year create obstructions or exceptional hazards to navigation, and pollution of the marine environment could cause major harm to or irreversible disturbance of the ecological balance. Such laws and regulations shall have due regard to navigation and the protection and preservation of the marine environment based on the best available scientific evidence." Countries possessing coastlines on the Arctic Ocean are permitted to pass their own legislation for the purpose of protecting the natural environment of the Arctic Ocean. The governments of Russia and Canada both establish their own regulations on this basis.
Regulations on navigation of the NSR
Based on Article 234 of UNCLOS above, Russia enacted the "Regulation for Navigation on the Seaway of the Northern Sea Route" in 1990; this law became effective in September 1991. This Regulation, which is the basis of Russia's legal framework governing the NSR, governs navigation not only in Russia's exclusive maritime economic zone but also in the high seas beyond it. Russia's regulations on navigation of the NSR are summarized in Section 4.3.5 above. Some unusual aspects of these regulations are presented below.
1) A vessel to be used in NSR navigation shall satisfy certain special technical and operational requirements. The ship's master or a person that performs the master's duties shall be experienced in operating the vessel in ice. In cases where those persons have no such experience, the Administration may assign a State Pilot to the vessel to assist in leading the vessel..
2) To be admitted for navigation of the NSR, the vessel must carry on board a certificate of financial security with respect to the civil liability of the owner for any damage inflicted by polluting marine environment.