Management of Fisheries in the High Seas of the Central Arctic Ocean

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Case Description
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Geolocation: 65° 14' 53.3832", -60° 27' 43.5528"
Total Area 2,800,0002,800,000 km²
1,081,080 mi²
Climate Descriptors cold-climate (permafrost, tundra, polar)
Important Uses of Water Fisheries - wild, Fisheries - farmed, Livestock, Other Ecological Services
Water Features: Mineral and Petroleum Resource Extraction in the Arctic Ocean – Conflicting Oversight, Governance and Rights


The Arctic Ocean is situated to the north of the landmass of the five coastal states – Russia, United States, Greenland, Norway and Canada. It constitutes two major regions - The peripheral and sub-Arctic Ocean area and the Central Arctic Ocean. The peripheral and sub-arctic ocean region falls under the jurisdiction of the nation states that border this region and the large part of the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO) is not under any territorial jurisdiction and is categorized as the High Seas. Some part of the CAO falls under the maritime zone of the bordering nation states. The boundary between the two Arctic regions is defined by the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea - UNCLOS (Overview - Convention & Related Agreements, 2017). Until recently, the CAO was covered in ice all throughout the area. Over the last two decades, the ice sheet in the CAO has been melting due to impacts of climate change and as it stands about 40 percent of the CAO is open waters during the summer season. Due to lack of an institutional mechanism that regulates fishing or for that matter any resources in the CAO, there is a fear that resources will be exploited.

The Arctic coastal states have taken the lead to initiate discussions on management of fisheries in the CAO. The initial negotiations started off with the five Arctic coastal states as major stakeholders and outside the exiting mechanisms such as the United Nations or the Arctic Council. In 2015, the five states signed the Oslo Declaration that placed a moratorium on commercial fishing in the CAO until there is a better scientific understanding of the Arctic ecosystem. Later that year, the Arctic five states initiated a border negotiation process to include more stakeholders – Japan, South Korea, China, Iceland and the European Union. As it stands currently, the negotiations are still taking place and the stakeholders are looking to draft a legally binding agreement on governance of fisheries in the CAO. The case study will explore and analyze the current negotiations that are taking place regarding commercial fishing in high seas of the Central Arctic Ocean.

Natural, Historic, Economic, Regional, and Political Framework

The Arctic Ocean Map



CAO – Central Arctic Ocean RFMA/O – Regional fisheries Management Agreement/Organization EEZ – Exclusive Economic Zone UNCLOS - United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea


The Arctic Ocean is situated to the north of the landmass of five Arctic coastal states – Russia, United States, Greenland, Norway and Canada. It constitutes two major regions - The peripheral and sub-Arctic Ocean area which falls under the jurisdiction of the nation states that border this region and the Central Arctic Ocean which largely not under any territorial jurisdiction and is categorized as the High Seas. Certain portion of the CAO is under the maritime zone of bordering nation states. The boundary between the two Arctic regions is defined by the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). According to UNCLOS, a country’s exclusive economic zone is an area that extends beyond the coastline up to 200 nautical miles. However, the UNCLOS is ratified by 4 of the 5 Arctic States with the exception of the United States.

The Central Arctic Ocean (CAO)

Large part of the CAO is as an international area – about 2.8 million sq. km (The Donut Hole, 2015) . Until recently, the CAO used to be covered in ice all throughout the year. However, over the last two decades, the ice sheet in the CAO has been melting due to impacts from climate change and about 40 percent of the CAO is open waters during the summer season. This opens up a huge area for new shipping routes and access to resources. The CAO has been characterized by the UN convention on biological diversity as an ecological and biological significant area due to its unique and vulnerable habitat. Unlike in the case of Antarctica, there are a few non-binding treaties that govern what goes on in the Arctic Ocean. Due to lack of institutional legally binding mechanisms, the CAO is one of the least protected and vulnerable areas in the world and is prime for exploitation. There are several historical cases that have shown how unregulated resource exploitation especially in the context of fishing has led to overfishing leading to depletion of fish stocks. Mechanisms to manage marine reserves by limiting industrial activities and increase scientific research is not only important for conservation but also for building resilience against changing climate and acidification of ocean.


Currently, there isn’t a single specific conflict in the region. Changing climatic conditions and lack of or inability of current governance mechanisms has created a conditions for a conflict to brew up. To understand where the conflict regarding fisheries will evolve in the future, it is important to identify risks associated to fisheries. The following section will explore risks to fisheries in two different regions of the Arctic Ocean. This classification is done to differentiate regions that currently have some sort of mechanisms to govern the area or regions that are completely devoid of any governance and is susceptible for exploitation. The case study will analyze the negotiations and discussions around the CAO and also explore the current existing mechanisms that are in place in the peripheral/sub-arctic region of the Arctic.

Risk to fisheries and disputes

The peripheral and sub-Arctic Ocean region

This region of the Arctic either lies within the sovereign jurisdiction of nation states and/or has some sort of a regional fisheries management agreements (RFMA). This region has seen its fair share of conflicts regarding commercial fishing and has several commercial fishing agreement between/amongst different Arctic states to regulate and manage fishing. The Arctic Ocean is connected to several significant breeding areas of fish stocks. Due to the changing climatic conditions several fish species are moving further north. The shifting of fish stocks has been going on for 40 years with some stocks disappearing from the US waters. There is also a case of illegal and unregulated fishing. Thus there is mounting pressure on existing fisheries management regimes. For example, in fear of uncontrolled new developments, the North Pacific fisheries management Council banned all commercial fishing in 200,000 sq. mile area near the Arctic coastal waters (Conley et al., 2012). This shifting of fish stocks and increased fishing opportunities are likely to result in disputes over quotas and fishing areas. To emphasize the importance of the above risks, let us look at a conflict that arose due to movement of fish stocks and overfishing.

The Barents Sea

It is the marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean located above Russia and Norway (Wright, 2001) . It contains the world’s largest cod population and also is home to large population of haddock and capelin. The fishing is managed by a bilateral fisheries management agreements called the joint Norwegian – Russian Fisheries commission (Hønneland, 2007) . The Barents Sea is usually cited as a positive example on cooperation as it has in the past addressed the issue of overfishing and depletion of certain fish stocks by conducting joint audits, monitoring missions and lowering catch quota (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2016). However this region too has seen several incidents between Norwegian Coast Guards and Russian trawlers over time (Peterson, 2014). In 2011, a Russian trawler was arrested for illegally dumping fish. The Russian and Norwegian Foreign ministers acted quickly to diffuse the situation and issued a statement that there is no conflict on fisheries in the region. Such incidents are likely to increase with increased fishing activities.


Even though the United States has jurisdiction in its EEZ, there have been several incidents related to illegal fishing due to declining resources and shifting of fish stocks. Despite the United States and Russia maritime boundary agreement in the Bearing Sea there have been increased tension over fishing in recent times. There have been incidents where several Russian fishing vessels have refused to cooperate and submit to inspection if caught in the US EEZ. In a specific case, a US Coast guard vessel was surrounded and threatened by a dozen Russian fishing vessels while it tried to seize another Russian vessel for illegal fishing. There have also been cases where Russians vessels have been observed monitoring and intercepting Pollock stocks migrating from US waters. There is a growing fear among the US fisheries managers that the Russian fisherman might over exploit the fish stocks. ( Kaczynski, 2007)

There have been several incidents in every part of the peripheral/sub-Arctic ocean regarding fishing despite some sort of a regulatory body. Changes in climatic conditions and declining resources combined with increased demand has put a severe strain on existing RFMA.

The Central Arctic Ocean

Currently, there is no commercial fishing going on in this region. However, new commercial fisheries are likely to form in the CAO in light of rapidly changing climatic conditions. None of the current RFMO/As govern the CAO and there is no institutional mechanisms or legal structures that manage the international waters of CAO. Also, there is a case of existing fish stocks migrating to the newly formed open waters of the CAO adding pressure to the current commercial fishing regimes. If nothing is done, there is a possibility that large scale commercial fishing might move in before any management is put in place. This can not only threaten the biodiversity in the region vis-à-vis overexploitation of fish stocks but also can lead to a conflict amongst different stakeholders. Currently, there are a series of negotiations going to address this problem and prevent future conflicts. To emphasize the importance of having a governing mechanism in the international waters of CAO, let us look at historical instances where such a scenario played out.

The Bearing Sea Donut Hole

The Bearing Sea is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. Its ecosystem includes resources within the jurisdiction of the United States and Russia. The Central Bearing Sea also called as the Bearing Sea Donut Hole is considered as international waters. The Bearing Sea is very rich in fish stocks and thus providing a massive business for commercial fisheries. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Central Bearing Sea which is the area outside the EEZ of the US and Russia, saw fishing vessels of several nations such as Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Poland harvest fish stocks particularly the Pollock stock. The international fisheries in the region grew rapidly with annual harvest reaching 1.5 million metric tons leading to over exploitation of fish stocks. These fish stocks were largely associated with the US EEZ and its fisheries. There was an appeal by the American fishermen to control fishing in the international waters. In 1991, after a series of negotiations US, Russia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Poland developed and fish stock management agreement also called as the Donut hole agreement. Even though the agreement has developed a governing mechanism of commercial fishing in the region, the fish stocks have not yet been recovered from overexploitation. This example of the Bearing Sea Donut hole provides an important lesson regarding creation of a precautionary stock management agreement or a regional fisheries management organization in the CAO to avoid overexploitation of fish stocks and prevent future conflicts. (Bailey, 2011) (Talhelm, 2000)


The Peripheral/Sub-Arctic Region and the CAO has different stakeholders involved in discussions. The following table illustrates the different stakeholders who are and who are not part of the current negotiations.(Arctic Fisheries Devising Seminar, 2015) (Susskind et al., 2015)

Stakeholders Peripheral/Sub-Arctic Central Arctic Ocean
National Governments The national governments of the Arctic Coastal States - US, Russia, Norway, Greenland (Denmark), Canada and the 3 remaining states Sweden, Finland and Iceland generally have had bilateral and multilateral agreements regarding commercial fisheries in this region. However, shifting of fish stocks from one region to another is creating conditions for disputes. The conflict resolution mechanisms built into some of the agreements is helping dissolve some of the current disputes. The Arctic five states – US, Russia, Norway, Greenland (Denmark), Canada along with the European Union, Japan, China, South Korea, Iceland are currently involved in negotiations. Even though the discussion is on the international waters other national governments are not part of the negotiations
Commercial Fishing Industries Commercial fishing industries have had an important voice in any of the bilateral/multilateral agreements or in creation of RFMA/O. In the past, they have played an important role in pushing their national governments to discuss international fisheries as seen the Bearing Sea case. Since there isn’t viable commercial fisheries in CAO at the moment, no existing commercial fishing industries are part of the negotiations. Because fish stocks are migrating and potentially to the CAO, the commercial fishing industries might want to get involved in discussions around fishing in the CAO.
Multilateral / Bilateral Agreements/organizations The Arctic Council and the Arctic Circle are two major international bodies that provide a forum for all Arctic member states (5+3) and observer states like India and China to discuss commercial fisheries in the Arctic Ocean. They provide expert opinions and facilitate cooperation regarding fisheries management.

There are several RFMA/O’s that play a major role in intergovernmental cooperation in fisheries. For example – The North Pacific Management Council manage fisheries off the coast of Alaska in the Arctic (see note 1). The North East Atlantic Council manages fisheries in Barents Sea and the Greenland area of the Arctic Ocean (see note 2).
Currently the negotiations are taking place on putting a moratorium on fishing in the CAO. The Arctic Council or the Arctic Circle or any of the RFMA/O or the United Nations are not part of the negotiations. The discussions are going on at the nation state level with the exception of the European Union negotiating on behalf of the EU members. The Arctic coastal states have consciously avoided to discuss commercial fisheries in the Arctic council.

Currently there no RFMA/O that is authorized to manage fisheries in the CAO.
Indigenous Population Indigenous population depend on subsistence farming in the Arctic Ocean. Heavy commercial fishing has impacts on the Indigenous population. Thus there is Indigenous pollution involvement in fisheries management in some part of this portion of the Arctic. Several indigenous populations have been given permanent member status in the Arctic Council Even though the nation states have acknowledged the importance of Indigenous people and their knowledge in the negotiations. They are not part of the negotiations
Oil and Gas Industries Oil and Gas industries have historically worked with commercial fishing industries to manage not only fish but other marine life in the Arctic due to their impact on the Arctic Ecosystem Oil and Gas industries add a huge risk to fisheries in the Arctic vis-à-vis oil spills. They have in the past worked with the Fisheries industries with regards to response planning. However, the Oil and Gas industry is not part of the discussion regarding fisheries in the CAO
NGOs The NGOs are represented in the Arctic council and there are several task force and working groups that discuss environmental concerns in the Arctic NGOs especially the environmental groups have not been part of the negotiations regarding CAO.
Scientists There are several expert groups as part of the Arctic Council, RFMA/O’s that help inform decision making regarding fisheries. Also, several bilateral agreements look to scientific collaboration and joint fact finding to monitor and manage fisheries in their region of the Arctic. Scientists from the 10 nations have been playing an important role in the negotiations. There are separate expert level meetings that are being held to come up with recommendations to inform the 10 member nation level negotiation meetings.

notes: 1. FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture - RFMOs. Accessed May 17, 2017. 2. "North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission". Retrieved 26 June 2013.

Conflict Resolution

The following section will explore the negotiation process in addressing the potential conflict in the CAO. Origins of discussion on managing fishers in the CAO In 2007, the United States senate directed the government to initiate international discussion and negotiate an agreement for managing migration and transboundary fish stocks in the Arctic Ocean. One of the first discussions on the management of Arctic Ocean fisheries took place in the Arctic Council where there was support for building mechanisms to address the Arctic Ocean fisheries issue within the existing mechanisms. There were several proposals made by regional and global bodies but without any consensus among the Arctic Five States. However, the Arctic Five states agreed that the discussion of a new mechanisms on management of Arctic fisheries should take place outside the confines of any existing mechanism and that it should be led by these Arctic five states (US, Russia, Norway, Canada and Denmark). Thus, since March 2010, the Arctic five states have convened a series of discussion and negotiations at the senior official levels along with series of expert level scientific meetings to inform their discussions. The initial discussions revolved around the best way to deal with the uncertainty of the CAO and the impact of potential commercial fisheries in the region. Some discussion points were – 1. Whether to include other stakeholders in the negotiations 2. Whether to have a binding or a non-binding agreement.

Oslo Agreement

In July, 2015 after series of negotiations, the Arctic five states signed the Oslo declaration. In the declaration, the signatories recognized the following (Oslo Agreement, 2015): • The ice in the CAO is receding rapidly and impact of changing climatic condition on the Arctic ecosystem is poorly understood • The role of healthy marine ecosystem and fisheries for food and nutrition • Based on the scientific information of the time, commercial fishing in the CAO is unlikely in the near future so the is no need to establish an RFMA/O. However it is imperative for nation states to respect the international law and take a precautionary approach to conserve and cooperate on management of fisheries in the Arctic • Interests of Arctic residents and indigenous people should be incorporated in proper management of marine ecosystem in the Arctic Ocean In light of the recognition of the above information, the signatories developed the following interim measures: • Authorization to vessels to conduct commercial fishing in the high seas of the Arctic only pursuant to one or more RFMA/O’s in accordance to existing international standards • Establishment of joint fact finding program to develop a better understanding of the Arctic ecosystem and promote cooperation • Coordination of the Arctic five states on monitoring, control and surveillance activities in the area • To ensure noncommercial fishing does not undermine the above interim measures

The Broader Process

The Oslo Declaration and the previous negotiations did not include any of the indigenous people Arctic residents and was facilitated outside of the Arctic Council. Iceland, one the Arctic Council members, slammed the negotiations for being non inclusive. However, the Arctic five States envisaged a broader process in the Oslo Declaration to include more players, to have a binding agreement in the future and generate more options. In December 2015, the first border negotiation process commenced. As it stands currently, the negotiations is taking place amongst the Arctic five states along with five more major stakeholders in the region namely - Iceland, EU, Japan, South Korea and China to discuss the draft of a potential agreement. The initial discussions were exploratory in nature and parties debated three main approaches to initiate negotiations (Meeting on High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean, 2016): • Include inputs from new stakeholders and develop an expanded version of the border non-binding Oslo declaration • Negotiate a binding international agreement with content similar to that of the Oslo Declaration • Negotiate an agreement to establish one or more RFMA/O’s for the CAO The delegations met a few more times in the last couple of years and initiated the negotiation process and discussed which approach or approaches to take .

Current Status

The negotiations are still ongoing. It is partially resolved as all the stakeholders who have been invited by the Arctic Five States to take part in negotiations have agreed to an interim period of moratorium in CAO vis-à-vis commercial fishing. The delegation has been working towards a legally binding version of the Oslo agreement. The most recent negotiations were held in March 2017 in Iceland. All the stakeholders have committed to prevent unregulated fishing in the high seas of the CAO and promote conservation and maintenance of healthy marine ecosystem (Meeting on High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean, 2017). Unresolved Issues Some of the exiting sticking points in the discussion have been on: • Definition of the area described in the agreement • Establishment of necessary conditions that can inform decisions to commence negotiations on an agreement to establish an RFMA/O in the CAO • Adoption of other conservation and management measures after such negotiations have commenced • Establishment of dispute resolution and decision making processes The chairman of the discussion has circulated a recommendation on how to resolve the above sticking points. He has suggested that if all the stakeholders accept the recommendations within two months then there is no need to have another round of negotiations. However, the draft agreement can be tabled at the meeting of experts for legal and technical review of the draft agreement. It is important to note that all the negotiations since March 2010, has been conducted simultaneously with meeting of experts and scientists to inform the diplomatic process. The recommendation reports submitted by the meeting of experts have played a critical role in resolving some sticking points in the negotiations and build consensus amongst all stakeholders. This is further elaborated in the “Way Forward” section.

Outcome so far

To summarize, as it stands currently the stakeholders included in the discussion (US, Russia, Canada, Norway, Greenland (Denmark), China, Japan, South Korea, Iceland, European Union) have agreed on an interim moratorium on commercial fishing until there is an agreement drafted. Currently, the sticking points mentioned in the previous section are still in the process of being negotiated. Even though the indigenous population and the environment groups are not represented in the discussion, the have supported the development of precautionary fish stock management and the current moratorium on commercial fishing in the CAO.

Problems in the Negotiations

Missing Stakeholders and control of the Arctic five states

The initial discussions were conducted among the Arctic five states and did not include any other stakeholders. Iceland raised objection of not being included in the discussions as they argue that the distributional range of fish stocks in the Arctic Ocean overlaps with Iceland’s maritime zone. Iceland has historically argued to be part of the Arctic Five states even though geographically Iceland is not one of the Arctic coastal states. The Indigenous groups nor the Environmental groups have been part of the discussion even though main principles of conservation and sustainable utilization resources has been spoken about and discussed in the negotiations. The Arctic five states have sought to play a lead role in shaping the discussion about the Arctic (The Oslo Declaration, 2015). Even though the Oslo declaration did not mention the lead roles of the Arctic five states, it appears that they have maintained complete control on the issue of participation of new members in the discussion as seen in their approach of participation through invitation only in negotiations. States such as Taiwan and Ukraine who can be considered as near states are not part of the negotiations. There is no criteria set to include more members. Also, another major reason for the control of the Arctic five states is that they would want to control the final output of the negotiations. The Oslo declaration states that the broader process should be in line with the tenants of the declaration, thus there is a question of limited flexibility and maneuverability in discussions with other stakeholders.

The maritime zone of the CAO not included in the discussion

It is important to note that some portion of the CAO also lies in the maritime zone of the Arctic five states. Another major concern in the negotiation process is that it is confined to the high seas of CAO and the above mentioned maritime zones are not included. It can be expected that commercial fishing may be viable in the maritime zones of the CAO’s before the high seas portion. There is a possibility that this maritime zone portion of the CAO will be subject to less stringent regulation and thus can lead to overexploitation of fish stocks. Thus it is imperative for Arctic five states to ensure commercial fishing in their maritime zone is regulated and in line with the international standards in particular the 1995 UN fish stock agreement. This might be necessary to get the consensus of non-coastal Arctic states in the broader process to ensure compatibility and eventual possible adoption of RFMA/O’s in the high seas. The United States has already stopped all fishing efforts in the EEZ off Alaska in the Arctic Ocean. Other states might have a similar stringency levels but it is necessary to include the discussion maritime zone of the CAO as part of the negotiations.

Non Representation of Arctic Council or the United Nations

The entire discussion of management of fisheries in high seas of the CAO is undertaken by the Arctic five states. The high seas are international waters. Even if there is a legally binding agreement amongst the Arctic five plus five states, non-signatories will not be bound by the agreement. It is a bit surprising that even though there exists a forum such as the Arctic Council which provides equal representation to Indigenous people as well as the Environmental group along with member states, the Arctic five states did not consider this forum as a medium to facilitate the negotiations on the high seas of the CAO. It raises questions on the relevance of the Arctic Council as an organization (The Arctic five strikes, 2015) . As alluded in the previous sub section, this was probably done to allow the Arctic five states to take the lead and shape its outcome.

Links to Water diplomacy Framework (WDF) and the Way Forward

Value Creation

In 2011, the Arctic five states initiated a series of meeting of scientific experts on fish stocks in the CAO. This was carried out to support the diplomatic discussion on having an international agreement on management of fisheries in the high seas of CAO. The scientific discussion revolved around to assess the impact of climate change on the sub-Arctic and CAO region. It initially involved gathering information on the current state of fish stock and ecosystem, patterns of migration of fish and a report on ongoing bilateral/multilateral search activities in the region (Tromsø ,2013). They also assessed current informational gaps and existing impediments for closer cooperation. Finally, they identified opportunities to generate options to facilitate closer cooperation amongst the Arctic five states. There have been three more meeting of experts and the number of participants increased to include scientific and policy personnel from governmental and non-governmental organizations such as the Arctic five plus five states along with organizations such as International Arctic Science Committee, Sustained Arctic Overserving Network, International Council for Exploration of the sea, the Ecosystem Approach Expert Group of the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group of the Arctic Council, and US domestic Arctic research organizations (Alaska Fisheries Science, 2015). Scientific information is playing a role in informing diplomatic discussions and has emphasized on creating value to facilitate closer cooperation. Creating value is a major component of the water diplomacy framework and it appears that due to the nature of the problem at hand considering that there is more or less consensus on development of scientific knowledge in the Arctic and the fact that there are several established scientific missions in the region, it appears that the WDF is more applicable in this scenario.

Joint fact finding missions

One of the proposed plans that is being currently negotiated as part of the legally binding agreement is that of establishing a joint program of scientific research with aim to improve scientific understanding of the region. The scientific experts in their fourth meeting have also proposed on creating a joint fact finding program and are discussing the scope of the program and how best to incorporate indigenous and local knowledge. Through the joint fact finding they aim to answer the following questions (Terms of reference, 2015): • Distribution and abundance of species that can be harvested for future commercial interests • Advice on how to ensure sustainable fisheries management and the Arctic Ecosystem • Identification of key ecological linkages between harvestable fish stocks in the CAO and the adjacent shelf ecosystem • Predict changes in the fish populations, dependent species, supporting ecosystem, adjacent shelf ecosystem over the next 10 to 30 years Engaging in joint fact finding missions facilities cooperation and generates a greater possibility for consensus. Currently the scope of the joint fact finding mission is being debated. It would also be beneficial to include the maritime zone of the CAO as part of the joint fact finding mission.

Involvement of all necessary stakeholders

As explained in the previous sections, not all stakeholders were involved in the discussion. The discussions have been led by the Arctic five states and five more states have been included. Indigenous people nor the environmental groups are participating in the discussion. The current temporary moratorium on fishing is supported by the Inuit circumpolar indigenous group as well as Greenpeace (Greenpeace, 2015). However, when commercial fishing becomes viable in the region, these groups along with commercial fishing industries would want to take part in the negotiations. There might be other states who might want to take part in fisheries in the international waters. As the discussion is not taking place in an international organization setting and the fact that the discussion id on international waters, the agreement can be on a legally tenuous grounds. Facilitating the future negotiations through the Arctic Council can provide a better grounding for including more stakeholders in the discourse as well as provide credibility to the Arctic council as an organization.

Adaptive Management

The approach taking by the Arctic five states and other stakeholders is of precautionary in nature. The Oslo Declaration and the current draft agreement that is under negotiations is based on the 1995 UN fish stock convention which emphasizes on conservation and management of fish stocks. Key lessons of preventing overexploitation of resources are learnt from the Bearing Sea case. Also, elements of adaptive management based on changing scientific understanding is being built into the draft agreement. As specified in previous sections, there is an understanding amongst all the stakeholders that currently the scientific knowledge of the CAO is unknown and changing climatic conditions can change in Arctic ecosystem in different ways. These measures are being built into the agreement as seen in development of prediction models by scientific experts and carrying out scenario analysis vis-à-vis development of conditions that might result in formation of new RFMA/O’s. Another aspect that should be built into the agreement is methodology to invite more members into the agreement such as Ukraine and Taiwan who have showed interest in the region.

Issues and Stakeholders

Commercial fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO)

NSPD: Ecosystems, Governance, Assets
Stakeholder Types: Sovereign state/national/federal government, Supranational union, Environmental interest, Industry/Corporate Interest

What are some of the fears of unregulated fishing in the CAO and what are some of the institutional and governance mechanisms in place to prevent exploitation of fish stocks in this region? What is being done to address the concerns?

Analysis, Synthesis, and Insight

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Key Questions

Transboundary Water Issues: What kinds of water treaties or agreements between countries can provide sufficient structure and stability to ensure enforceability but also be flexible and adaptable given future uncertainties?

The case study is about creation of a legally binding treaty with joint fact finding built into it. This component can help in long term suitability for the agreement

Transboundary Water Issues: What considerations can be given to incorporating collaborative adaptive management (CAM)? What efforts have the parties made to review and adjust a solution or decision over time in light of changing conditions?

a. The stakeholders in the case study recognize the changing climatic conditions in the Arctic ecosystem. They are building in CAM in the agreement by conducting scenario analysis and identifying conditions needed that might trigger a decision such as in the case of conditions that can trigger creation of an RFMA/O

b. The stakeholders in the case recognize the lack of understanding of the importance of scientific information of the Arctic ecosystem and are using science experts to inform the diplomatic process

Power and Politics: How can government be dis/incentivized to offer an inclusive planning process?

The case study is an example of taking a precautionary approach in fish stock management as it learns from previous experiences (Bearing sea case in 1970s that resulted in over exploitation of fish stocks)


Overview - Convention & Related Agreements.- United Nations. Accessed May 17, 2017.

The Donut Hole at the Center of the Arctic Ocean. Cryopolitics. June 25, 2015. Accessed May 17, 2017.

Conley, Heather A., Terry Toland, Jamie Kraut and Andreas Osthagen. A New Security Architecture for the Arctic: An American Perspective . Center for Strategic and International Studies: Washington, D.C., January 17, 2012 (45p).

Struggle for Arctic resources could devolve into conflict. Accessed May 17, 2017.

John Wright (30 November 2001). The New York Times Almanac 2002. Psychology Press. p. 459. ISBN 978-1-57958-348-4. Retrieved 29 November 2010

Hønneland, Geir, 'Norway and Russia in the Barents Sea: Cooperation and Conflict in Fisheries Management'. Russian Analytical Digest, No 20, 2007, pp. 9-11.

Affairs, Ministry of Foreign. "Norwegian - Russian cooperation in the north." Accessed May 17, 2017.

Petterson, Trude. "Russian trawler freed." Barentsobserver. Accessed May 17, 2017.

Vlad M. Kaczynski . "US-Russian Bering Sea Marine Border Dispute: Confl ict over Strategic Assets, Fisheries and Energy Resources."

Bailey, Kevin. "An Empty Donut Hole: the Great Collapse of a North American Fishery." Ecology and Society. June 30, 2011. Accessed May 17, 2017.

Talhelm, Jennifer L. "Curbing International Overfishing and the Need for Widespread Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea." North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation. Vol. 25. (Spring 2000): 381-418.

Talhelm, Jennifer L. "Curbing International Overfishing and the Need for Widespread Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea." North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation. Vol. 25. (Spring 2000): 381-418.

Publicdisputes. Arctic Fisheries Devising Seminar

Facts about "Management of Fisheries in the High Seas of the Central Arctic Ocean"RDF feed
Area2,800,000 km² (1,081,080 mi²) +
Climatecold-climate (permafrost, tundra, polar) +
Geolocation65° 14' 53.3832", -60° 27' 43.5528"Latitude: 65.248162
Longitude: -60.462098
IssueCommercial fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO) +
Key QuestionWhat kinds of water treaties or agreements between countries can provide sufficient structure and stability to ensure enforceability but also be flexible and adaptable given future uncertainties? +, What considerations can be given to incorporating collaborative adaptive management (CAM)? What efforts have the parties made to review and adjust a solution or decision over time in light of changing conditions? + and How can government be dis/incentivized to offer an inclusive planning process? +
NSPDEcosystems +, Governance + and Assets +
Stakeholder TypeSovereign state/national/federal government +, Supranational union +, Environmental interest + and Industry/Corporate Interest +
Water FeatureMineral and Petroleum Resource Extraction in the Arctic Ocean – Conflicting Oversight, Governance and Rights +
Water UseFisheries - wild +, Fisheries - farmed +, Livestock + and Other Ecological Services +
Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Management of Fisheries in the High Seas of the Central Arctic Ocean +, Management of Fisheries in the High Seas of the Central Arctic Ocean + and Management of Fisheries in the High Seas of the Central Arctic Ocean +