Thursday, July 23, 2015

5 Nations Sign Accord To Ban Arctic Ocean Fishing

Fish Stocks

Arctic Fishing: The Globe & Mail writes: “A fishing boat is firmly locked into the ice in Cambridge Bay on Nov. 29, 2013.” This agreement is one of those times where an accord is ahead of reality: there currently is no arctic fishing in this region. Gloria Galloway writes: “Scott Highleyman, the international Arctic director for the Pew Charitable Trusts, said the Arctic countries have agreed that unregulated commercial fishing in the High Arctic is a looming problem. Although there is currently no fishing in the central Arctic, there is also no legal means to prevent it as the sea ice melts, he said.”
Photo Credit: Peter Power
Source: The Globe and Mail

Five nations, including Canada, signed an accord that effectively bans fishing around the waters surrounding the North Pole. An editorial in The Globe & Mail says:
After 100,000 years of frozen peace, the central Arctic Ocean around the North Pole is becoming a hotbed of activity. Scientists see the ice melting quickly – at least 40 per cent of the central Arctic Ocean is now open water in the summer – and they are awaiting the inevitable next step: the arrival of commercial fishing boats and their massive nets. Now there’s hope they may not come.
The five countries surrounding the world’s northernmost ocean signed a remarkable accord last Thursday, each pledging not to permit their own ships to fish in the central Arctic Ocean’s international waters until a full scientific assessment of fish stocks can be conducted. The off-limits zone is a 2.8 million square kilometre body of water surrounded by Canada, the United States, Russia, the Danish territory of Greenland, and Norway.
The agreement is remarkable not just because it marks a rare example of countries co-operating to protect a sensitive environment before it is threatened, but because several of the signatories are involved in a bitter disagreement over Russian aggression in Ukraine. The U.S., Canada and Russia are barely talking these days, but all agreed to meet in Oslo to sign the accord. It was unusually mature diplomacy, and it deserves applause.
The agreement was originally reached in February 2014, and it is remarkable given the disagreements that Canada and the U.S. have over Russia's intervention in Ukraine. But, more important, this shows that a dispute in one area does not prevent agreement in another. I sense we will see a lot more of such agreements in the future.

Enforcement of such agreements is always an issue. This agreement currently involves only the five signatory nations, which does not prevent boats from China, Japan, South Korea and the European Union from entering the region. The next step, as the editorial suggests, is for the five signatory nations to bring in the world’s largest fishing nations into the accord.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) is currently valued at $23 billion (US) a year, representing about 20 per cent of the world’s fish catch, says the Pew Charitable Trust, a global research and public policy organization having its headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It explains why such international accords are important:
Even when unregulated fishing on the high seas does not break any national law, it can have a significant harmful impact on marine life in the world's oceans. So, the international community needs to develop and implement policy solutions that both forbid and eradicate these activities.
International cooperation among nations will naturally have to become the norm if we are to protect the oceans, which is not only an economic issue but one of conservation and preservation. In simple terms, conservation makes economic sense. Now that’s a catchy slogan.

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For more, go to [G&M]

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