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Statement: International Agreement on Fisheries Charts a New Path for Arctic

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Washington, D.C. – The following statement was issued by Scott Highleyman, vice president for Conservation and Policy at Ocean Conservancy, to mark the ‘Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean’ entering into force on June 25, 2021:

“Ocean Conservancy celebrates this precautionary agreement that closes the Central Arctic Ocean to commercial fishing while gathering knowledge about the ecosystems it supports. The agreement comes on line just in time as the Arctic is warming three times as fast as the rest of the world.”

“Both Arctic and non-Arctic nations have come together with a new model for international cooperation and a vision for our oceans that puts knowledge first, is inclusive of Indigenous people and ways of knowing, and prioritizes ecosystem health over industrial fishing expansion.”

“We look forward to supporting implementation of this agreement, and to applying this model to other ecosystems, such as the Central Bering Sea, that need precautionary protection amidst a rapidly changing climate.”

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Background

  • The Central Arctic Ocean fisheries agreement was negotiated and ratified by the United States, Canada, Norway, Russia, Greenland, Iceland, Japan, South Korea, China and the European Union.
  • The agreement closes the 1.1 million square mile high seas area of the Central Arctic Ocean to all commercial fishing for 16 years and commits to a joint program of scientific research and monitoring to learn more about this unique ecosystem. The agreement will automatically renew in 5 year increments unless one of the signatories objects.
  • As part of its mission to gather knowledge about the Central Arctic Ocean before allowing fishing to being, the Agreement requires that both science and Indigenous Knowledge be considered together and provides for participation of Indigenous Arctic experts.
  • To support this work, Ocean Conservancy experts served on the U.S. delegation at all negotiations, held workshops and conversations in countries across the world, supported the views of Inuit experts and allies, and published maps and analysis to illustrate the need for international action.
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© Ocean Conservancy

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