August 12 marks Day of Caspian Sea
By Gunay Hasanova
August 12 marks the Day of the Caspian Sea, the largest land-locked body of water on earth.
The Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, also known as the Tehran Convention, entered into force on August 12, 2006, the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) reported.
The Convention, which was the first regional legally binding agreement signed and ratified by all five Caspian littoral states, aims at protecting the Caspian Sea from all sources of pollution and at preserving and restoring its biological resources for present and future generations.
The Caspian Sea is surrounded by the five coastal countries of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. The Sea has a total surface area of 371,000 km², holding 78,200 cubic km of water. Besides this, it is also the 3rd-deepest lake in the-world. The deepest part of the lake is 1,025 m, and the lake has a length of 1,199 km at its longest span, with an average depth of 211 m.
It receives water from the Volga, Ural and the Kura rivers and numerous other freshwater inputs, but has no outlet to the world's oceans. The Volga River, the largest in Europe, is the source of 80% of the Caspian's freshwater inflow. The Caspian Sea is home to about 141 fish species.
ANAS reported that the main aim of marking the Caspian Sea Day is the implementation of measures to protect the Caspian Sea from pollution, as well as, preservation, restoration, sustainable and rational use of its biological resources and public education in this field.
Protecting the Caspian environment is not only a matter of protection for the environment's own sake, but is also a prerequisite for fostering sustainable economic development.
The Caspian Sea plays an important role in the transport corridors, along with being an important part of the international and regional projects.
A key problem to further development in the region is the unresolved status of the Caspian Sea and the water boundaries among the five littoral states.
The legal status have been remained unsolved during the past two decades, preventing development and exploitation of its disputable oil and gas fields and creating obstacles to the realization of major energy projects.
Negotiations related to the demarcation of the Caspian Sea have been going on for nearly a decade now among the littoral states bordering the Caspian. The major issues cover the access to the mineral resources (oil and gas), access for fishing, access to international waters.
Azerbaijan proposes that the Caspian Sea must be divided into national sectors based on the “median line” principles since it is a international boundary lake.
In turn, Iran and Turkmenistan oppose Azerbaijan’s position considering that the Caspian Sea must be divided into equal parts between the pre-Caspian countries, so that each country must have 20% of the sea.
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