Arctic & Antarctica
Ekaterina Uryupova

Arctic - Why do we need a shared Pan-Arctic Fisheries Governance Complex?

By the end of 2020, nine of the ten countries-signatories ratified the 2018 Central Arctic Ocean Fisheries Agreement. But is that reason to celebrate? Not really…

In the Arctic, abundant fisheries provide the primary source of food for the region. However, their productivity, as well as their impact on species diversity and importance for industrial and traditional fisheries, varies greatly. This specifies the fisheries governance framework in the entire region.

Unlike Antarctica, where the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) focuses on the conservative and precautionary use of the fish stocks, the ice-free Arctic area is covered by regional fisheries management organizations. Commercial fishing in the Arctic Ocean and adjacent seas is not evenly distributed, and it is very much locally concentrated –– so far. But the ocean is a dynamic natural system that changes rapidly, and this has been especially true in recent decades.

The high seas contain commercially important species, such as cod, crabs, halibut, pollock, shrimps, capelin, squid, scallops, etc.. Some of the species are defined as “circumpolar,” while others are characterized by wider distribution. But how do we manage fish stocks in the region in response to environmental changes? And what is the nearest future of a Pan-Arctic fisheries legal regime? Does the existing mechanism work fast enough when it comes to current climate change issues?

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