Reaching an Arctic Accord

Environmental OasisThe central Arctic Ocean has been covered in ice for eons, but under the influence of global warming, nearly half of it is now open water for part of the year. Commercial fishing has not yet begun there, but urge to begin fishing is almost overwhelming. The waters of central Arctic, an area the size of Mediterranean, hold the last untouched fishing stocks on this planet. At present, they also lie beyond boundaries of settled international law, more than a million square miles outside the reach of the exclusive economic zones that protect national waters of the 5 countries with coastlines on the Arctic: the United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway. What ice once protected, it is now up to humans to protect. Beginning later this month, the ice nations will discuss an international accord that would impose a moratorium on commercial fishing until scientists have had a chance to study fish populations and underwater environment. Eventually, these waters would be opened for carefully managed fishing. The immediate goal is to forestall the rapacious fishing fleets of Japan and China, for which Arctic is an all too tempting target. Chinese trawlers already fish for krill in Antarctica, about 7.000 miles from China. Arctic is 5.000 miles away. In a curious way, the year-round Arctic ice, which has persisted for some 100000 years, has made international agreements covering the use of these waters by Arctic nations unnecessary. If an Arctic fishing accord is reached, and we firmly believe that one is essential, it will be only the third such agreement; the first two regulated search-and-rescue operations and responses to oil spills as new drilling areas and shipping lanes opened up in coastal waters. No matter how severe, how austere, the Arctic may seem in our imaginations, it is almost unbelievably fragile, as are many of the species newly exposed under what is now open water. It is time, now, to intercede and to protect this environmental oasis. (source: THE EDITORIAL BOARD – NYTimes – 20/04/2013)

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

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