Scientists call for Arctic fishing moratorium, rules

Apr 23, 2012
Scientists urged Arctic rim nations to set fishing regulations for the Arctic Ocean, and order a moratorium on fishing until stocks are assessed, before trawlers soon start dropping nets in the pristine waters.

Scientists on Monday urged Arctic rim nations to set fishing regulations for the Arctic Ocean, and order a moratorium on fishing until stocks are assessed, before trawlers soon start dropping nets in the pristine waters.

"A commercial fishery in the central Arctic Ocean is now possible and feasible," said more than 2,000 scientists from 67 countries in an open letter to Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States.

But not enough is known about "the presence, abundance, structure, movements, and health of fish stocks and the role they play in the broader ecosystem" of these international waters as large as the Mediterranean Sea.

The international community must "take action now to protect these waters until we have the science and governance in place to ensure sustainable development of fisheries," the scientists wrote in the letter.

The main barrier to fishing in the Arctic waters is quickly disappearing, as the ice cap melts. Since the summer of 2007, 40 percent of the central Arctic Ocean has been open water.

Soon trawlers from major fishing nations could begin to appear in the far north.

The United States adopted a precautionary approach by closing its Arctic waters to commercial fishing in 2009 to allow scientists to assess the evolving environment.

Canada is also drafting its own fisheries policy for the adjoining Beaufort Sea.

But the scientists fear that "in the absence of scientific data and a robust management system" for the entire region, "depletion of fishery resources and damage to other components of the ecosystem are likely to result if fisheries commence."

The letter was released on the first day of the International Polar Year 2012 science conference in Montreal which brings together the five Arctic coastal countries.

Explore further: Measuring phosphorus loss from Midwest crop fields

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU sets fish quotas for 2007

Dec 22, 2006

The European Union fisheries ministers have set the 2007 limits for fish catches in European waters.

Arctic Ocean waters warm suddenly

Oct 07, 2005

Water flowing from the North Atlantic Ocean into the Arctic provides evidence that the Arctic Ocean is warming, according to U.S. and European researchers.

Recommended for you

Measuring phosphorus loss from Midwest crop fields

1 hour ago

Field runoff from farms in the Lake Erie basin is often rich in soluble plant nutrients, including phosphorus. When this nutrient-rich runoff reaches the lake, the phosphorus can support abundant algal blooms ...

FACT CHECK: Both sides in Keystone XL debate bend facts

14 hours ago

Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would run from Canada to the Gulf, say the privately funded, $8 billion project is a critically needed piece of infrastructure that will create thousands of jobs ...

Sao Paulo warns of severe water rationing

16 hours ago

Authorities in Sao Paulo, Brazil's richest state and economic hub, have warned they are considering severe water rationing if the country's worst drought in 80 years continues.

Refineries challenge EPA plan to cut emissions

19 hours ago

A rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that aims to curb emissions from oil refineries and petrochemical manufacturers is causing tensions to flare between the agency and industry groups. The agency is reviewing ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.