Quantcast

Scientists Urge Protection of Newly Open Arctic Fisheries

Pew Environment Group

More than 2,000 scientists from 67 countries urged Arctic leaders, in an open letter released April 22 by the Pew Environment Group, to develop an international fisheries accord that would protect the unregulated waters of the Central Arctic Ocean. New maps show that the loss of permanent sea ice has opened up as much as 40 percent of this pristine region during recent summers, making industrial fishing viable for the first time.

“Scientists recognize the crucial need for an international agreement that will prohibit the start of commercial fishing until research-based management measures can be put in place,” said Henry Huntington, the Pew Environment Group’s Arctic science director. “There’s no margin for error in a region where the melting sea ice is rapidly changing the marine ecosystem.”

More than 60 percent of the scientists who signed the letter, released on the first day of the International Polar Year 2012 science conference in Montreal, are from one of the five Arctic coastal countries—Canada, the U.S., Russia, Norway and Greenland/Denmark.

The scientists recommend that Arctic countries work together to protect the Central Arctic Ocean, an area as big as the Mediterranean Sea, by:Click to view larger image

  • Taking the lead in developing a precautionary international fisheries management accord.
  • Starting with a catch level of zero until sufficient research can assess the impacts of fisheries on the central Arctic ecosystem.
  • Setting up a robust management, monitoring and enforcement system before commercial fishing begins.

The U.S. adopted a precautionary approach by closing its Arctic waters to commercial fishing in 2009 to allow scientists to assess the evolving environment. Canada is drafting its own fisheries policy for the adjoining Beaufort Sea.

Although industrial fishing has not yet occurred in the northernmost part of the Arctic, its newly opened waters are closer to Asian ports than Antarctica’s waters are. Large bottom trawlers regularly catch krill and toothfish in the Southern Ocean, placing stress on populations of these fish. The lack of regulation in the Arctic region could make it an appealing target for similar activities.

“Atlantic Canada has experienced the damage that unregulated fishing can cause, even when it is outside the 200-mile limit,” said Trevor Taylor, policy director for Oceans North Canada, a collaboration of the Pew Environment Group and Ducks Unlimited Canada, and a former fisherman and fisheries minister for Newfoundland and Labrador. “Canada should take the lead in helping craft an international accord to prevent the start of industrial fishing. This will protect the environment and strengthen Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.”

Pew’s campaign is working with Arctic countries, scientists, the fishing industry and indigenous peoples to achieve expanded support for an agreement that will protect the international waters of the Central Arctic Ocean and its living marine resources from premature, unregulated or unsustainable commercial fishing.

Learn more:

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Justin Trudeau delivers remarks during an election rally in Markham, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 15. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. / NurPhoto via Getty Images

By Chloe Farand for Climate Home News

Canadians are voting on Monday in an election observers say will define the country's climate future.

Read More Show Less
Activists Greta Thunberg (2ndL), Iris Duquesne(C), and Alexandria Villaseñor (3rd R) attend a press conference where 16 children present their official human rights complaint on the climate crisis to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child at the UNICEF Building on Sept. 23 in NYC. KENA BETANCUR / AFP / Getty Images

By Jessica Taft

Fifteen kids from a dozen countries, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, recently brought a formal complaint to the United Nations. They're arguing that climate change violates children's rights as guaranteed by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a global agreement.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on could fall heavily on the public.
Susan Vineyard / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Justin Mikulka

Increasingly, U.S. shale firms appear unable to pay back investors for the money borrowed to fuel the last decade of the fracking boom. In a similar vein, those companies also seem poised to stiff the public on cleanup costs for abandoned oil and gas wells once the producers have moved on.

Read More Show Less
Blue tarps given out by FEMA cover several roofs two years after Hurricane Maria affected the island in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 18. RICARDO ARDUENGO / AFP / Getty Images

Top officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed to lawmakers last week that they knowingly — and illegally — stalled hurricane aid to Puerto Rico.

Read More Show Less
Actress Jane Fonda (C) and actor Sam Waterston (L) participate in a protest in front of the U.S. Capitol during a "Fire Drill Fridays" climate change protest and rally on Capitol Hill, Oct. 18. Mark Wilson / Getty Images News

It appears Jane Fonda is good for her word. The actress and political activist said she would hold demonstrations on Capitol Hill every Friday through January to demand action on the climate crisis. Sure enough, Fonda was arrested for demonstrating a second Friday in a row Oct. 18, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Only this time, her Grace and Frankie co-star Sam Waterston joined her.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Visitors look at the Aletsch glacier above Bettmeralp, in the Swiss Alps, on Oct. 1. The mighty Aletsch — the largest glacier in the Alps — could completely disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to rein in climate change, a study showed on Sept. 12. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Switzerland's two Green parties made historic gains in the country's parliamentary elections Sunday, according to projections based on preliminary results reported by The New York Times.

Read More Show Less
A mural in Richwood, West Virginia, a once booming Appalachia coal town, honors the community's history. Jeff Greenberg / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Jeff Turrentine

The coal industry is dying. But we can't allow the communities that have been dependent on coal to die along with it.

Read More Show Less
ThitareeSarmkasat / iStock / Getty Images

by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Every fruit lover has their go-to favorites. Bananas, apples, and melons are popular choices worldwide and can be purchased almost anywhere.

Read More Show Less