Climate change is making Arctic waters more accessible to vessels, raising the controversial prospect of more industrial-scale fishing. In the latest episode of Ocean, Euronews looks at what's being done by the EU to prevent threats to the Arctic ecosystem.
In this episode, Euronews travels to Greenland to see the effects of a warming climate. Among other things, this means longer fishing seasons. As the seas get warmer, new species of fish are finding their way to Greenland’s coasts — these include mackerel, herring, Atlantic bluefin tuna and cod. But not everyone is happy as the fishermen say their most profitable catch — halibut — is getting harder to find during the warmer part of the year.
In the future, retreating sea ice and changes in fish stocks could bring commercial fishing fleets into the unprotected international waters around the North Pole. Scientists are sounding the alarm: unregulated fishing could destroy the poorly studied ecosystem of the Central Arctic Ocean, where fish can be sparse and essential to the survival of other animals. In a bid to stave off this imminent threat, the European Union brought Canada, China, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Iceland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Russia and the United States to agree on a commercial fishing ban in the Arctic high seas for at least 16 years. Together, these parties represent some 75% of global GDP. Under this legally binding agreement, the Central Arctic area will remain off-limits for fishing fleets, at least until scientists confirm that fishing in the region can be done sustainably.
The future of the ban will depend on the findings of the scientific consortium led by Professor Pauline Snoeijs Leijonmalm. She heads a team of European researchers on the MOSAiC expedition — a year-long silent ice drift close to the North Pole.
Amidst this rapidly evolving context in the Arctic, the European Commission (DG MARE) also organised the EU Arctic Forum on 3-4 October, jointly with the EU’s External Action Service (EEAS) and the Swedish Government, to debate the wider strategic agenda facing the Arctic and EU’s approach to the region.
Euronews Ocean Episode 8: Protecting life in the Arctic seas can be watched on Euronews TV from 11 October at 20:55 GMT or online.
OCEAN is a Euronews magazine in collaboration with the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE). In monthly 5-minute videos, we highlight fascinating projects and developments related to the ocean and coastal communities.
Previous episodes were on women in fisheries (September), marine protected areas (June), small-scale fisheries (May), ocean energy (April), aquaculture (March), IUU fishing (February) and sustainable fisheries (January). Missed one? Check out the previous episodes here! You will also find some nice extras about these topics.
Euronews Ocean: Protecting life in the Arctic seas
- Publication date
- 11 October 2019
- Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries