064/17/Gen.Inf. EU engages negotiations for illegal fishing in the Arctic

The European Union participated in the third round of international negotiations on measures to prevent unregulated fishing in the Arctic high seas. The meeting took place between 29 November and 1 December 2016 in Tórshavn on the Faroe Islands.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs: “I am encouraged by the strong desire and willingness of all parties to take measures to prevent unregulated commercial high seas fishing in the central Arctic Ocean. The safeguarding of healthy marine ecosystems in the central Arctic Ocean is a priority in the EU’s Arctic policy as well as our Ocean Governance initiative. We need to fill this important gap in the current ocean governance system.”

While no commercial fisheries currently take place in the Arctic high seas, the Arctic region is warming at almost twice the global average rate. As the Arctic sea ice cover reduces, high seas areas may become attractive for commercial fisheries in the mid- and long-term. An increased productivity in fish stocks and changes in spatial distributions may occur, both in the exclusive economic zones of Arctic coastal states as well as the high seas area of the Central Arctic Ocean.

Faced with this likeliness and aware that no international conservation and management regime for most of the Arctic high seas is in place, delegations from Canada, the People’s Republic of China, the Kingdom of Denmark (in respect of the Faroes Islands and Greenland), the European Union, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States met on the Faroe Islands for the third round of negotiations. Delegations made good progress on the basis of a draft text for a legally binding agreement as a first step for possibly moving towards one or more additional regional fisheries management organisations or arrangements for the Central Arctic Ocean. The next, and possibly final, round of negotiations is to take place in the first quarter of 2017 and will be hosted by the government of Iceland.

Sound stewardship of the high seas parts of the Central Arctic Ocean has a prominent place in the EU’s Arctic policy as well as under the EU’s Ocean Governance initiative. This includes a responsible approach towards Arctic marine resources, whilst respecting the rights of indigenous peoples. Since 2009, the EU has maintained that no commercial fisheries should commence on the Arctic high seas before a science-based and precautionary management regime is in place. In particular, EU would support a multilateral agreement that prevents unregulated high seas fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean until a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation or Arrangement is in place.

EU’s Arctic policy

Ocean Governance

Source: EU Commission


Thank you & Best Regards,

Eng. Dimitrios Nikolaos Spanos
Lead Maritime Auditor / Principal Surveyor
Member of IRCA, IIMS, ELINT, HELMEPA & Nautical Institute

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