Historic agreement reached to protect the Arctic


An international agreement to protect the Central Arctic Ocean against all commercial fishing was reached in Washington DC, on December 1. The United States, Canada, Norway, Russia, The Kingdom of Denmark, Iceland, Japan, South Korea, China and the European Union signed a 16 year moratorium on commercial fishing in international waters covering an area of 2.8 million square kilometers or roughly the size of the Mediterranean Sea.

Jon Burgwald, political advisor, Greenpeace Nordic, said:

“This is a historic win for Arctic protection and a day for celebration. Thanks to the millions of voices from all around the world who supported the Save the Arctic campaign, this unique area at the top of the world will be safe from destructive fisheries. We applaud the countries behind this agreement and expect them to make use of the next 16 years to agree on permanent protection for the Central Arctic Ocean - from commercial fisheries as well as from other extractive industries”.

The legally binding agreement will automatically be extended every five years, unless a country objects or a science-based fisheries management plan is put in place. It is vital that all countries involved now ratify the agreement and commit to long term protection for the vulnerable ocean on top of the world.

The Central Arctic Ocean has experienced increased pressure from the fishing industry, as its protective shield of sea ice is melting due to climate change. Forty percent of this historically ice-covered area has experienced ice-free summers in recent years.

“Whilst giant steps have now been taken to protect the Central Arctic Ocean, it is important that these countries also take a progressive role in the United Nations negotiations on high seas protection. The UN process has the potential to safeguard all oceans in the high seas, and these countries must step up their game and support a global and ambitious agreement,” Jon Burgwald said.

The Arctic announcement comes on the same day that protection also comes into force in the Antarctic for the Ross Sea, where a Marine Protected Area covering 1.5 million square kilometers is confirmed, on December 1.

Source: Greenpeace International