Agreement on unregulated fishing in the Arctic Ocean

Dec. 1, 2017 | During the final round of negotiations this week in Washington, D.C., an international agreement was achieved to prevent unregulated fishing in the central Arctic Ocean.

"I am pleased the parties have arrived at an agreement to counter unregulated fishing in the Arctic Ocean and strengthen cooperation in research. The agreement is important for managing the seas around the North Pole and it adds to the global effort to curb unregulated fishing," said Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide (Conservative Party). 

The agreement commits the five Arctic coastal states of Norway, Russia, the United States, Canada, and Denmark/Greenland/the Faroe Islands as well as Japan, South Korea, Iceland and the EU – which also have large fishing fleets – to abstain from any future unregulated fishing in the international waters of the Arctic Ocean.

The agreement will also facilitate collaborative international research to keep track of fish stocks and ecosystems in the coming years. Such research will be important in monitoring the effects of climate change on the ecosystems of the Arctic high seas.

"I would like to highlight the importance of the collaborative research in particular. This will be a long-term effort that will tell us a great deal about changes occurring in the central Arctic Ocean," said Norway’s Minister of Fisheries Per Sandberg (Progress Party). 

There is unlikely to be any commercial fishing in this part of the Arctic Ocean in the immediate future. The parties agreed there is no need to establish a new regional fisheries management organisation at present.

"The agreement brings very important countries into the effort, which will strengthen our knowledge of developments in the high Arctic waters so we’ll be ready if fish stocks move into this area," said Mr. Sandberg.

"Norway may also apply the knowledge that is gained to the work of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) should regulation and commercial fishing become likely in the NEAFC management area north of the national zones," the Fisheries Minister added.