'Historic agreement:' Canada signs High Arctic commercial fishing ban - InfoNews

Current Conditions

Clear
0.9°C

'Historic agreement:' Canada signs High Arctic commercial fishing ban

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc fields questions as the Liberal cabinet meets in St. John's, N.L. on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
December 01, 2017 - 6:07 AM

An international deal has been reached to prevent commercial fishing in the High Arctic for at least the next 16 years.

"Canada has reached an historic agreement in principle today in Washington, D.C. to prevent unregulated commercial fishing in the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean," Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc said in a statement Thursday.

"It's the first time an international agreement of this magnitude has been reached before any commercial fishing takes place on a region of the high seas."

The countries that have signed on include the five nations with Arctic coastlines, as well as China, Japan, South Korea, the European Union and Iceland. Inuit from three countries, including Canada, were also represented at the table.

"It's heartening to see Arctic and non-Arctic countries come together on conservation measures for the future of the Arctic Ocean," said Herb Nakimayak of the Inuit Circumpolar Council Canada.

"The agreement explicitly calls out the importance of considering Indigenous people's knowledge and the importance of our role in the Arctic."

The decision will stand for 16 years and be renewed every five years after that.

It affects Arctic seas that are at least 200 kilometres away from the shores of any coastal states. That amounts to 2.8 million square kilometres of ocean, about the size of the Mediterranean Sea.

Those seas were once frozen year-round. But as climate change continues to reshape the Arctic, about 40 per cent of those waters were open last summer.

Although no commercial fishing exists there now, climate change is affecting where fish live and more of them are shifting north. Scientists and fishers have wondered what those previously inaccessible waters now hold.

The agreement commits the signatories to an extensive science program.

"This is getting ahead of the curve and preventing a problem," said Scott Highleyman of the group Ocean Conservancy, who has been following the talks.

"For the first time, nations have gotten together and said let's prevent the start of unregulated fishing and actually do a joint program of science so we can figure out what's there first. Now, let's get that joint program of science going."

The talks began in 2015. They followed an earlier agreement that was limited to Canada, the United States, Norway, Denmark and Russia.

Highleyman said the speed at which the deal was reached suggests international co-operation is still the norm in the Arctic, even though negotiating countries may disagree in other parts of the world.

"It shows the Arctic is still a place for co-operation," he said.

— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

  • Popular kamloops News
  • Comments
  • Police make arrests in Vernon homicide
    VERNON – RCMP have two people in custody in connection with a suspicious Vernon death now deemed a homicide. Vernon RCMP media relations officer Const. Kelly Brett says in a media rele
  • Kamloops man nabbed in warehouse break-in
    KAMLOOPS - Police have arrested a 43-year-old local man after he broke into a City of Kamloops warehouse, states an RCMP media release. Police say the dog unit was called in after a 6 a.m. t
  • How Kamloops got to be the only B.C. city operating a government cannabis store on Oct. 17
    KAMLOOPS - Kamloops is expected to be the only city in the province to have a legal store where you can buy cannabis Wednesday, and it’s all down to being prepared and a chance encounter.
  • TRENDING NOW: Toy mocks dog look-alike
    %%nodefaultimage%% This adorable dog is getting mocked by a robotic toy that looks and sounds like him or her. If you have dogs in the room, they may react to this.
  • Immigrants face hurdles to prove abuse by US agents
    HOUSTON - Within hours of being booked at a Border Patrol station in far West Texas, two teenage sisters from Guatemala came forward to allege that an agent conducted an improper strip search.
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile