Arctic research to regulate fisheries | Polarjournal
Commercial fishing in the Arctic is to be regulated in order to prevent illegal fishing. (Photo: Archive)

International efforts raise hopes for cooperation between the actors. The U.S., China, Japan and Russia are among the countries planning to conduct joint research on fishing in the Arctic Ocean to establish international rules. This is reported by the news platform NIKKEI Asia.

Commercial fishing is banned in much of the Arctic under the agreement signed in Greenland in 2018, cutting off access to a vast area of ocean that is opening up as climate change takes hold.

This is prompting representatives from nine countries and the European Union to meet in South Korea early next year to discuss catch quotas based on similar treaties for other regions. If the meeting is successful, the quotas could come into force as early as 2022. Thus, the guidelines for the enforcement of sustainable fisheries are to be successively expanded.

The Wärtsilä-designed trawler 5670WSD is set to become Russia’s largest and most expensive fishing vessel. The vessel is to have a length of 121 metres, a beam of 21 metres and a fish processing capacity of 150 tonnes per day. The plan is to hand over the ship to the operator in 2023. (Photo: Wärtsilä)

Their efforts are based on an international agreement banning unregulated fishing in the Arctic that came into force in June.

The fact that the US, China and Russia – the three most influential players in the region – have joined the agreement raises hopes for international cooperation on other projects in the Arctic. Global warming has reduced ice cover in the Arctic by up to 40% since the last century. As potential fishing grounds expand, it has become essential to establish rules to prevent uncontrolled fishing.

The aim of the joint research is to track the fish species in the Arctic and their current catches. If a fish stock is deemed to be adequate, a regulation is issued allowing commercial fishing within established quotas.

The members, which also include Canada, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and South Korea, will discuss the establishment of a resource management body to monitor uncontrolled fishing and resolve fisheries disputes. The aim is to establish these international rules by 2023-2024.

Map showing the area in the Central Arctic (blue) where commercial fishing has been banned since 26 June 2021. The new regime envisaged concerns the areas between the prohibited zone and the coasts. (Graphic: PAME)

The Arctic lacks global rules like the Antarctic Treaty in the South. Countries are vying to tap into their rich resources, which include oil, natural gas and rare earths as well as fish.

China released its first Arctic policy paper in 2018, unveiling plans to develop a maritime route dubbed the “Polar Silk Road.” China also signaled its intention to intensify resource development as part of a five-year plan. China is already planning a mining project for ‘rare earths’ in Greenland, which has sparked local protests and led to backlash in the EU.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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