Yesterday, the International Agreement to Prevent Unregulated Fishing in the High Seas of the Central Arctic Ocean enters into force. Arctic Council says the Agreement will prevent commercial fishing by the signatory states in the high seas of the Arctic Ocean for the next 16 years. A time period that will be used to further our understanding of an ecosystem that is emerging below a retreating sea ice cover.
The Central Arctic Ocean, a high sea area that previously only has been accessible by heavy icebreakers, could soon open up. A potentially promising prospect for commercial fishing activities. Yet, as of today, we know very little about the ecosystem below the shrinking ice cover and unregulated fishing could have severe impacts.
The Arctic coastal states, therefore, decided to put a mechanism in place that would prevent commercial fishing activities until better scientific knowledge was available. In the process, they also engaged other states with distant-water fishing capacity. And so, on 3 October 2018, ten parties signed the Agreement: Canada, Iceland, the Kingdom of Denmark, Norway, the United States, and the Russian Federation, as well as China, Japan, South Korea and the European Union.