Mon. May 29th, 2023

Today, the Commission welcomes the entry into force of the Agreement to prevent unregulated high seas fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean. This is an important step towards ensuring that any future fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean will be carried out sustainably.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said:

The Agreement’s entry into force today will help us protect the Arctic’s fragile marine ecosystems against unregulated fishing and fill an important gap in the international ocean governance framework. As a next step, we need to make sure that the Agreement is fully implemented. The EU will continue to play its part in the coming years to make this happen.

At present, no commercial fishing takes place in the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean, an area that is roughly the size of the Mediterranean Sea and no regional fisheries management organisation or arrangement exists for this whole area either.

However, due to the impacts of climate change, it cannot be excluded that commercially interesting fish stocks may occur and lead to fishing activities in the Central Arctic Ocean in the mid and long term. To address this issue proactively, the EU and nine countries in 2018 signed this international agreement after two years of negotiations.

The Agreement applies a precautionary and science-based approach to fisheries by banning unregulated fishing activities in the Central Arctic Ocean, while a joint scientific programme is set up to improve Parties’ understanding of the ecosystems and potential fisheries. The Agreement will initially be in force for a period of 16 years, until 2037.

The Agreement is a key deliverable under the EU’s International Ocean Governance agenda and the EU’s Arctic policy. 

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