Friday, February 6, 2009

United States protects the Arctic from industrial fishing

Oceana: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) voted unanimously today, February 5th, 2009, to prevent the expansion of industrial fishing into all U.S. waters north of the Bering Strait for the foreseeable future to limit stress on ocean ecosystems in light of the dramatic impacts of global climate change in the Arctic. With no large-scale commercial fishing in the U.S. Arctic at present this decision establishes one of the largest preventative and precautionary measures in fisheries management history.

"As goes the Arctic, so goes the planet. We must wake up and recognize that in reality, we are all on thin ice," said Jim Ayers, vice president of Oceana. "The Arctic Ocean is a unique place vital to the people in the region and the Earth's health. The NPFMC is leading the way toward a science- based precautionary approach and this action -- the largest of its kind-- is a model for management of our Arctic Ocean."

Climate change is causing the Arctic to warm twice as fast as the rest of the planet, leading to a dramatic reduction in Arctic sea ice cover and other potentially catastrophic changes to Arctic Ocean ecosystems. The loss of sea ice threatens not only the Arctic, but the rest of the planet as the Arctic plays a critical role in global weather and climate patterns. In addition, melting sea ice opens previously ice-covered waters to new industrial activities. Scientists, conservationists and local Arctic communities have expressed concern that additional strain from industrial activities like large-scale commercial fishing, shipping, or oil and gas development could overwhelm Arctic ecosystems.

"Today's decision signals a new day in the Arctic, where science comes first and where we think about the consequences of our actions before we take them," said Janis Searles Jones, vice president with Ocean Conservancy…

This shot of a fishing trawler by Axel Rouvin

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