The opening of the Arctic Ocean due to climate change will also open the race for the presumed resources. Next to minerals and fossil fuels, fisheries will play an important role in the considerations of governments. However, an important step to protect the marine environment from overexploitation has now been taken.

Marine cods are readily distinguished from other fishes in arctic waters by having 3 dorsal fins instead of 1 or 2, and 2 anal fins instead of 1. The family comprises 24 species, with 13 inhabiting arctic marine waters. Only two are primarily distributed in the Arctic Ocean: polar cod, Arctogadus glacialis; and Arctic cod, Boreogadus saida.
Marine cods are readily distinguished from other fishes in arctic waters by having 3 dorsal fins instead of 1 or 2, and 2 anal fins instead of 1. The family comprises 24 species, with 13 inhabiting arctic marine waters. Only two are primarily distributed in the Arctic Ocean: polar cod, Arctogadus glacialis; and Arctic cod, Boreogadus saida.

A new international agreement to prevent unregulated fishing in the Arctic ocean was signed in Oslo on July 16th 2015. Greenpeace welcomed the move as a small step towards Arctic protection but lamented the failure to make the deal permanent. Reacting to the agreement, Greenpeace Arctic campaigner, Sophie Allain said: “With this agreement the Arctic States have recognised that the Arctic Ocean is an extraordinary environment which requires far better scientific understanding. But sadly they have missed the chance to deliver the permanent protection this area desperately needs.

It’s clear that most of these countries are motivated by resource extraction, not protection, and see the melting of the ice sheet as an opportunity to fish further north. Millions of people around the world agree that there should never be industrial fishing in the Arctic high seas – this region should be declared a marine sanctuary, where all extractive practices, including oil production, are banned.”

The polar cod is an arctic fish that preys on larger plankton. It is itself important food for other fish-eating fish like cod, and for seals, whales and seabirds.
The polar cod is an arctic fish that preys on larger plankton. It is itself important food for other fish-eating fish like cod, and for seals, whales and seabirds.

Over seven million people have joined the Greenpeace “Save the Arctic” campaign since 2012, which calls for a protected sanctuary in international waters around the North pole - off limits to both oil drilling and industrial fishing. The central Arctic probably has no commercial fish stocks now, experts say, but melting sea ice may draw fish such as cod farther north. The Arctic states also want other major fishing nations - such as China, Vietnam, South Korea and all European Union states - to agree not to venture into the central Arctic Ocean.

Source: Greenpeace, Reuters