[caption id="attachment_80098" align="alignright" width="525"] U.S. officials are pushing for a moratorium on commercial fishing in the international waters of the Arctic Ocean. (Pew Charitable Trust International Arctic Program / February 22, 2014) [/caption]Nuuk, Greenland - A historic agreement has been reached between the arctic fishing nations of Canada, Russia, Denmark, Norway, and the United States. The deal effectively prevents the formation of any further arctic fisheries until the appropriate regulatory system is enacted. The accords were the result of three days of negotiations by the signatories.
Under the agreement, each nation will continue to regulate fisheries within 200 km (~124 miles) off their own shores. That leaves a large portion of these arctic waters free to exploit. In the past, it had not even been a concern because that part of the ocean was covered by ice. However, climate change has exposed as much as 40% of those arctic waters for part of the year which allows for unregulated fishing. The new accord will block any fisheries until they can be properly regulated.
The accords mark an important step in the cooperation between science and government. In 2012, 2,000 scientists from around the world called on the arctic fishing nations to halt any exploitation of those newly available waters until regulations could be agreed upon to safeguard the environment. The five signatories concurred and have put good stewardship of the earth over commercial interests.