June 25, 2021
Ottawa, ON – With climate change causing Arctic ice to melt at an alarming pace, the central Arctic Ocean is now opening up to increased international interest, including the potential for commercial fishing and shipping activity.
To help protect the Arctic’s fragile ecosystems, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced that the historic Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean has come into effect.
As of today, under the Agreement, no commercial fishing can take place in the central Arctic Ocean until parties have a greater scientific understanding of the area and its ecosystem and measures are in place to regulate commercial fisheries.
Signed by Canada, Norway, Russia, the United States, China, Iceland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the European Union and Denmark in respect of Greenland and the Faroe Islands in 2018, this legally binding agreement is the first international agreement of this magnitude to be reached before commercial fishing takes place in a high seas area.
The participation and inclusion of Arctic Indigenous Peoples and Northern communities, and the traditional knowledge they can contribute, is written into the Agreement particularly in developing the Agreement’s scientific research and monitoring program. Their knowledge, in conjunction with scientific research, will be important in determining effective conservation and management measures for the area.
The Arctic and its future is a priority for the Government of Canada and for Arctic Indigenous Peoples. This Agreement shows leadership from Canada and its partners for responsible stewardship of the central Arctic Ocean. This will also help with global efforts to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, which is a serious risk to our global oceans and economy.