Jul 23 2015

Commercial Fishing Ban in the Arctic Ocean

Published by under Student blog entries

The following information is taken from a New York Times article published on July 16th, 2015 titled Sea Warming Leads to Ban on Fishing in the Arctic. According to the article, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Russia and Norway have agreed to temporarily ban commercial fishing in the Arctic Ocean based on climate change figures gathered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American Meteorological Society.1 These organizations have noted that this year oceans have been measured at the highest recorded temperatures in 135 years of measurement.2 In the past, the Arctic Ocean has not seen commercial fishing popularized due to inaccessibility from accumulated ice and a lack of significant, desirable fish populations.3 However, the countries that have agreed to the ban note that northern migration of fish populations and melting of ice from rising temperatures would have opened up greater possibilities for commercial fishing, had the ban not gone into effect.4 This ban will likely be in effect until, as the article notes, “more scientific research could be done on how warming seas and melting ice are affecting fish stocks”.5

This political decision is one of many made to resolve the conflict of interests between industrial and environmental concerns. The commercial fishing industry is huge, and from an economic perspective, such a ban rules out the potential for millions if not billions of dollars in revenue for the United States alone. In 2010 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published it’s State of the Coast infographic which estimated an annual $70 billion contribution from trade in coastal and marine fisheries to the United States economy.6 Opening up the Arctic ocean to commercial fishing would create jobs and significantly stimulate the national economy if ice continued to melt and fish populations continued to migrate to the area. However, as in the case of nonrenewable energy, immediate economic benefits must always be tempered with environmental concerns to both ensure that the economics are sustainable from a long term perspective and that immediate decisions don’t have other significant impacts on the marine environment. The Sustainable Seafood Coalition notes that by 2009, “over half of the world’s [fish] stocks were estimated to be overexploited.”7 Overfishing is not the only potential environmental concern attributed to commercial fishing, so temporary commercial fishing bans and stricter regulations may prove to be the best solution to emerging environmental concerns until the science can provide a better estimate on the specifics of impacts of such activities.

Works Cited

“Commercial Fishing: Potential Environmental Issues – Sustainable Seafood.” Sustainable Seafood Coalition. April 8, 2013. Accessed July 22, 2015.

“Economy: Commercial Fishing – a Cultural Tradition.” NOAA’S State of The Coast. Accessed July 22, 2015.

Myers, Steven. “Sea Warming Leads to Ban on Fishing in the Arctic.” The New York Times. July 16, 2015. Accessed July 22, 2015.

1Myers, Sea Warming Leads to Ban on Fishing in the Arctic.

2Ibid.

3Ibid.

4Ibid.

5Ibid.

6NOAA’s State of the Coast.

7Commercial Fishing: Potential Environmental Issues.

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