The European Union and nine nations have reached an international agreement to prevent unregulated commercial fishing in the High Arctic.
The nine nations engaged in Arctic matters alongside the EU are Canada, China, Denmark (in respect of Greenland and the Faroes Islands), Iceland, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Russia and the US.
The Joint Research Council (JRC) has provided continuous support to the process through scientific expertise in the management of sustainable fisheries.
The Arctic region is warming at almost twice the global average rate, causing a change in the size of distribution of fish stocks. As a result, the Arctic high seas potentially become more attractive for commercial fisheries in the mid to long term.
Most of the High Arctic is not covered by any international conversation and management regime.
Jann Martinsohn, deputy head of unit and responsible for Fisheries & Agriculture at the JRC, said: “We are venturing into a vastly unknown territory and nobody quite knows what fishing resources will be available in the Arctic Ocean in the future. However, there is consensus among the participating countries that scientific co-operation is key to ensuring that potential new fish stocks are protected from overfishing and that there are proper fisheries management plans in place early on.”
The JRC fisheries experts were nominated by the EU to be part of a scientific expert group on fish stocks in the Central Arctic Ocean (FisCAO), in which all participating countries had scientific representatives.
The European Union has a longstanding position that no commercial fisheries should begin in the Arctic before a science-based and precautionary management regime is in place.