OTTAWA, April 23 (Itar-Tass) — An international group of scientists has called on the governments of Canada, Russia, the United States, Norway and Denmark to introduce a moratorium on commercial fishing in those Arctic areas that are becoming more accessible as a result of ice melting. The appeal was made public on the eve of the International Polar Year (IPY) Conference that is opening in Montreal on Monday.
The appeal has been signed by a total of about 2,000 scientists, including over 500 Canadian experts. According to the authors of the message, the moratorium is needed in order to prevent the excessive depletion of Arctic cod populations outside the economic zones of coastal states in the central Arctic Ocean. In connection with the ice area reduction in the area during the summer months by about 40 percent, the Arctic fish resources will “for the first time become accessible for commercial fishing,” and not only for coastal states, but also for other countries such as China. “The scientific community currently has not enough information to assess the amount of bio-resources, fish migration routes, as well as the role these bio-resources play in the general Arctic ecosystem,” the appeal emphasises. “In view of the absence of such scientific data, as well as the system of control over the use of biological resources, the very likely result of commercial fishing will be the depletion of resources and damage to the whole ecosystem.”
Postmedia News reported that a moratorium on commercial fishing has already been introduced outside of the Canadian and American economic zones in the Beaufort Sea, where “due to the lack of scientific information on the condition of fish stocks commercial fishery is closed until the completion of studies.”