Five nations tentatively agree to arctic fishing ban

Arctic Sky

Clouds over the Arctic Ocean. Photo by Patrick Kelley, U.S. Coast Guard.

The United States and four other Arctic nations have tentatively agreed to prevent commercial fishing in the high Arctic.

The Canadian Press reports that Canada, Denmark, Norway, and Russia signed on to the ban after three days of meetings in Greenland last week. The measure was originally pitched by the United States, and it didn’t have support from Norway or Russia until now.

The details of the ban are still being worked out. But the basics are clear: The countries have to do more scientific research on Arctic fish stocks. In the meantime, they will not engage in commercial fishing in the Arctic Ocean outside their 200-mile exclusive economic zones.

In the United States, that area begins at the northern edge of Alaska. Fishing has already been banned within the American Arctic since 2009.

Because this new moratorium applies to international waters in the Arctic Ocean, there’s no guarantee that other countries will choose to honor it.

The next step is to get more nations on board beyond these five Arctic states. In a statement, the Arctic group said they plan to spend the rest of the year lobbying for broader support.

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