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Arctic exploitation put on ice

Rob Fletcher
Rob Fletcher
04 December 2017, at 12:01pm

The world's biggest fishing nations have signed up to a 16-year moratorium on commercial fishing in a 1 million square mile area of the Arctic Ocean.

The moratorium, which covers an area about the size of the Mediterranean, was signed by Canada, Russia, China, the US, the EU, Japan, Iceland, Denmark and South Korea.

Although there is not yet any commercial fishing in the area in question, due to ice cover, it is becoming increasingly accessible. The deal is expected to last for 16 years while research is carried out into the marine ecosystem.

Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Dominic LeBlanc, said: “I am proud to announce that Canada has reached an historic agreement…to prevent unregulated commercial fishing in the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean. It’s the first time an international agreement of this magnitude has been reached before any commercial fishing takes place on a region of the high seas.

“Together we have taken a strong proactive and precautionary approach to potential fishing activities in the central Arctic Ocean as climate change continues to have a major impact in the area. The melting polar ice cap is opening up this once frozen frontier to fishing, shipping, resource development and other interests. Canada and the other Parties have committed to a program of joint scientific research and monitoring to gain a better knowledge of Arctic Ocean ecosystems and the potential for sustainable fisheries in the future.”