Arctic partners agree to outlaw unregulated high seas fishing
A agreement to prevent unregulated commercial fishing in the Arctic high seas was signed at a landmark meeting of nations that between them represent close to 75% of global GDP, held at Ilulissat in Greenland.
Under this agreement, the ten nations agree to ban commercial fishing in the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean at least until there is scientific confirmation that this can be pursued sustainably, and until the Parties agree on mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of fish stocks.
â€˜This historic agreement was only possible thanks to the strong commitment and leadership shown by all Parties. It shows what multilateralism can achieve, when there is a strong sense of common purpose,â€™ commented Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
â€˜Protection of the Arctic was a significant gap in international ocean governance. Today, we have all committed to safeguarding this fragile marine ecosystem for future generations. I call upon all Parties to swiftly proceed to the ratification of this important agreement.â€™
The Arctic region is warming at almost three times the global average rate, causing a change in the size and distribution of fish stocks. As a result, the Arctic high seas may become more attractive for commercial fisheries in the medium to long term.
Most Arctic high seas have hitherto not been covered by any international conservation and management regime, while there is still a limited understanding of the marine ecosystems of the Arctic and, in particular, of determining whether fish stocks might exist in this area that could be harvested on a sustainable basis.
The agreement will be a first step towards the creation of one or more regional fisheries management organisations or arrangements for the Central Arctic Ocean, to ensure that any future fishing is carried out sustainably.
The agreement is fully in line with a long-held position of the European Union that no commercial fisheries should begin in the Arctic high seas before a science-based and precautionary management regime is in place. The Agreement is a key deliverable under the EUâ€™s Ocean Governance policy and under the EUâ€™s Arctic policy, wherein sound stewardship of the high seas, a responsible approach towards utilising Arctic marine resources and respect of the rights of indigenous peoples feature prominently.
Parties to the agreement are the European Union, Canada, the People's Republic of China, Denmark (in respect of Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Iceland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States.
The agreement will enter into force when all ten Parties have ratified the agreement.
Source: European Commission
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