Agreement bans unregulated commercial fishing in central Arctic Ocean

A new international agreement has banned unregulated commercial fishing in the central Arctic Ocean until “greater scientific understanding of the area and its ecosystem and measures are in place to regulate commercial fisheries.”

According to a news release from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean came into force on Friday. It was signed in 2018 by Canada, Norway, Russia, the United States, China, Iceland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the European Union and Denmark.

While there are not currently any commercial fisheries in this region of the Arctic Ocean, the Canadian government says that could change with the unprecedented loss of Arctic ice.


“With climate change causing Arctic ice to melt at an alarming pace, the central Arctic Ocean is now opening up to increased international interest, including the potential for commercial fishing and shipping activity,” the release states.

The agreement encompasses an area approximately the combined size of Quebec and Ontario.

The government of Canada says it consulted with Inuit organizations, territorial governments, the fishing industry, and environmental groups when negotiating the agreement.

“This important agreement is about responsible ocean stewardship and is necessary to protect this rapidly changing area already impacted by climate change and the threat of illegal fishing,” Bernadette Jordan, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard said in a statement.


“By working with other nations and drawing upon the traditional knowledge of the Arctic Indigenous Peoples, Canada is helping to protect the Arctic’s diverse and dynamic ecosystems for future generations.”

The agreement will initially last for 16 years, followed by the option of five-year extensions.