USA, Russia, Danmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands) et al enter into historic agreement to ban commercial fishing across much of the Arctic

After several years of negotiations, nine jurisdictions — Canada, Norway, Russia, the United States, China, Iceland, Japan, South Korea, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands) and the European Union — signed the legally binding “Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean” in Ilulissat, Greenland, on Oct. 3, reports news.mongabay.com.

While no fishing takes place in the Central Arctic Ocean at the moment, rising temperatures and melting ice could make this a possibility soon. The agreement bans commercial fishing in the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean, covering 2.8 million square kilometers (1.1 square miles), or an area about the size of the Mediterranean Sea, until there’s a better scientific understanding of the fish stock in the region.

As part of the agreement, the signatory parties have agreed to a 16-year moratorium and committed to a joint scientific research and monitoring program to gain a better understanding of the changing Arctic ecosystem and determine the region’s potential for commercial, sustainable fisheries in the future. The moratorium will initially cover 16 years, but this can be extended in five-year increments, if the parties agree to do so, writes news.mongabay.com.

Denmark’s minister for fisheries, Eva Kjer Hansen said in a statement that this was the first time a fisheries agreement was in place for such a large area even before fishing had begun.

“This is historical,” Hansen said. “Amongst other things, it is important that a joint program of scientific research and monitoring will be established in order to secure a solid scientific basis for sustainable fisheries.”

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