Agreement reached to safeguard Arctic ecosystems

Date: 16-Oct-18
Author: Liam Taylor

Rising temperatures mean that summer navigation by ship through the Arctic is now possible over what was previously ice. Image: Unsplash © Alexander Hafemann

Rising temperatures mean that summer navigation by ship through the Arctic is now possible over what was previously ice. Image: Unsplash

Commercial fishing will be banned in an area of ocean about the size of the Mediterranean as climate change raises concerns over potential over-fishing and ecological degradation.

A warming climate and swiftly melting ice have opened up fresh potential for resource exploitation in the Arctic, but the moratorium on commercial fishing signed on October 3rd in Greenland should offer the region’s fragile ecosystems some protection. 

Polar scientists found the minimum level of Arctic sea ice dropped this year to the sixth-lowest extent of ice on record. Diminishing summer ice cover and thickness has led to a number of commercial vessels beginning to explore the area for potential fisheries.

New fishing areas such as the Arctic are becoming increasingly appealing to commercial fishing fleets as overfishing takes its toll on more traditional hunting grounds and the warming ocean forces certain fish species further north in pursuit of cooler waters.

The signatories to the moratorium - the US, Russia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Japan, South Korea, China and the EU - have also committed to a joint scientific monitoring programme to assess the impacts of climate change and potential economic opportunities in the area.

The moratorium itself can be extended in five-year increments depending on initial results.


Positive Action

  • Choose sustainably sourced seafood and avoid suppliers known to fish in threatened fisheries where possible. Australia's Sustainable Seafood Guide provides up-to-date information.
  • Help protect our marine environment by disposing of your litter appropriately. For information on how and where to recycle particular items, check Recycling Near You.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 

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Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.

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