Greenland meeting to discuss Arctic fishing

A boat makes its way through the icebergs in Disko Bay, Greenland. (John McConnico/AP)
A boat makes its way through the icebergs in Disko Bay, Greenland. (John McConnico/AP)
International delegations from five Arctic coastal nations are meeting in Greenland this week to discuss Arctic fishing.

Huge sections of international waters in the Arctic, once locked almost permanently in ice, are now opening up in the summer. As the ice melts even faster, there are concerns over the fact there are no rules to control commercial fishing in this delicate ecosystem.

The five Arctic nations, Canada, Russia, Denmark, Norway and the US have been discussing the issue.

Last year the US Canada and Denmark agreed to a preliminary deal to prevent commercial fishing until more is known about the ecosystem. They hope to convince Russia and Norway to join the agreement this week.

Proactive talks on Arctic fishing moratorium

An agreement would prevent commercial fisheries from operating beyond the 200-mile exclusive economic zones that extend from the northern shorelines of the five countries until there has been a full assessment of the fish stocks that are there and how they can be harvested sustainably.

Scott Highleyman is the international Arctic director of the Pew Environmnetal Group in the US. He says, “There’s no science yet telling us how many fish are up there and so starting fishing a population where you don’t even know the baseline, that could be a disaster” .

Daniel Pauly, is a professor at the University of British Columbia’s centre for fishery who petitioned for such an international moratorium until more is known. He said that more must be known about what fish are there and how fast they reproduce.

He says that in cold Arctic waters there is not high productivity, and that nothing grows fast. Vast numbers of fish removed by commercial operations would likely quickly deplete the resource.

Highleyman says, if the five Arctic countries can agree on a common position this week, they could make a strong case for a moratorium to the rest of the world.

Patrick McGuinness, the president of the Fisheries Council of Canada, said his organization fully supports an agreement.

The Arctic is warming almost twice as fast as the rest of the earth and estimates now are that vast areas of the Arctic could be ice free during the summer in as little as ten years.

Related Links:

Canada: Is a fishing boom in the Arctic a sure thing?, Eye on the Arctc

Greenland: Vessel charged for fishing in Greenland waters, CBC News

Norway:  Fishing disputes don’t hamper historic meeting between Norwegian and Russian defense chiefs, Blog by Mia Bennett

United States: Alaska elder who fought for fishing rights passes away, Alaska Public Radio Network

Marc Montgomery, Radio Canada International

With a passion for anything antique with an engine, and for Canadian and world history, Marc comes with a wealth of media experience. After DJ work at private radio in southern Ontario, and with experience in Canadian Forces radio and tv in Europe, the state broadcaster in Austria (Radio 3), and the CBC in Ottawa and Montreal, he was the host of the immensely popular CBC and RCI show, "The Link". He is now part of the new RCI online team producing stories from and about Canada from coast to coast.

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *