U.S. officials are traveling to Greenland to persuade nations not to fish in the Arctic Ocean.
The Los Angeles Times highlighted the meetings intended to place a moratorium on Arctic fishing.
From the Times:
More Climate Effects on Fishing
The United States is proposing an agreement “that would close the international waters of the Arctic Ocean to commercial fishing until there is a good scientific foundation on which to base management of any potential fishing,” said David Benton, a member of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, who will be part of the negotiations in Nuuk, Greenland.
The Arctic fish population has barely been studied, and commercial fishing has constantly put pressure on both the species that are harvested as well as others affected by the food chain interruption. The main source of the issue comes from climate changing patterns, which have been melting the permanent ice caps and allowing commercial fishing boats into previously inaccessible waters.
The US, Canada and greenland are on board with the moratorium, but Russia and Norway have held out. The coastal countries that are in the Arctic control the waters 200 miles from their shorelines. Beyond that are uncontrolled waters, only protected by international agreements.
With no in-depth studies or surveys on fish populations in the Arctic, allowing unregulated fishing could have very bad effects.
“The Arctic is experiencing a fairly rapid rate of change,” said Benton in the Times article. “That’s potentially causing large changes in the ecosystem, but we don’t understand what’s going on up there. If we want to do things right, this is the approach we should be taking.”
The Arctic Ocean is home to some 1.1 million square miles of unregulated waters, and officials say if it is overfished, the effects could be felt by seals, whales and polar bears, not to mention the native people who fish for sustenance.