ICES suspends Russia’s membership over invasion of Ukraine
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has temporarily banned Russian delegates from participating in the organization’s activities until further notice in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine – a move Russia claims will backfire by hampering the council’s scientific research.
On its website, ICES said that since the beginning of the Russian invasion, member-countries “have instructed their scientists and representatives to either boycott or avoid engagement in activities where representatives of the Russian Federation are present.”
Following its decision, ICES placed a temporary suspension on all Russian delegates, members, and experts from participation in ICES activities, it said. The reasoning, according to ICES, is that the goal of the council is “broad participation of essential experts in our activities,” something made impossible by the war in Ukraine.
When Russia will be able to participate in ICES activities again remains unclear. ICES said its executive committee will continue to monitor the situation and “when appropriate, recommend a reversal of this suspension.”
In response to the move, the Russian Federal Agency for Fisheries’ press service told media agency Fishnews the suspension will make the information and experience provided by Russian fisheries scientists inaccessible for the global fishery community, resulting in “questionable” accuracy and reliability of data and recommendations on catches and stocks of fish and invertebrates in the North Atlantic.
Russia, as a co-founder of ICES, had been involved in its scientific programs at both the national and international level. The country’s specialists were involved in the organization’s committees and working groups to establish databases of fish stocks and in the crafting of scientific recommendations for catch limits.
The suspension of Russia from ICES is the latest fallout from its invasion of Ukraine to affect its fisheries sector. In late March, the Marine Stewardship Council said the war will make it more difficult to continue cooperation with Russian companies, though it pledged to try to maintain its certification program in Russia.
“The impact of economic sanctions imposed on the Russian economy, and the likelihood of further and more-extensive sanctions being implemented, could lead to the loss of MSC certification for Russian fisheries as independent certification bodies are prevented from engaging in required auditing, assurance and surveillance activities,” the MSC said.
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