After a week of meetings in Portland, Arctic officials have put the final touches on an agreement to collaborate on research.
Penelope Overton, Portland Press Herald, 8 October 2016
The Arctic Council is preparing a treaty to be signed in the spring to promote scientific cooperation among the eight Arctic nations, a move that would benefit Maine scientists who need access to Russian territory and research for their work on topics ranging from climate change to how oil changes when it’s exposed to severe cold.
David Balton, the United States’ ambassador to the council and the chairman of the council’s senior Arctic officials, hailed it as a groundbreaking agreement. The officials have been meeting all week in Portland to discuss policy issues that affect Arctic nations.
“We are trying to allow Arctic science to be science without borders,” Balton said Friday, the final day of the conference. “Not all science proceeds as smoothly in the Arctic as we might like yet. There are restrictions, particularly in Russia, about entry and exit of scientists from other nations, and their material and data. With this, all the nations in the Arctic will allow much more freedom to conduct science.”
With climate change opening up the Arctic, a pact regulating commercial fishing in the region is urgently needed.
Michael Byers, AlJazeera.com, 3 September 2013
The Antarctic is a continent surrounded by oceans. The Arctic, in contrast, is an ocean surrounded by continents. The relatively shallow, increasingly ice-free waters of the Arctic Ocean constitute the last unexploited fishery on Earth.
WASHINGTON -- Canada will begin a two-year stint at the helm of the eight-nation Arctic Council amid a clamour of competing calls for leadership, as the ice recedes and the race heats up to extract resource riches while protecting a fragile and now-exposed environment.
Michael Byers, International Herald Tribune, 18 August 2011
No country will ever “own” the North Pole, which is located roughly 400 miles to the north of any land. The central Arctic Ocean belongs to humanity; its challenges are the responsibility of all nations. Those challenges — of life-threatening accidents, oil spills and over-fishing — are increasing as the sea-ice melts and ships of all kinds gain access.
Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon has taken a bold step into the sometimes frosty domain of polar politics, inviting the foreign ministers of the United States, Russia, Denmark and Norway to a meeting in Chelsea, Quebec on March 29. The mini-summit will take place immediately before a gathering of G8 foreign ministers in Gatineau that same evening and the following day.
Just two weeks after Prime Minister Stephen Harper toured Canada's North and touted his government's record on Arctic sovereignty, the NDP is accusing him of going "silent" on the issue in the face of U.S. "encroachment" on Canadian jurisdiction in the Beaufort Sea.
The claim by Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington, the NDP critic on Arctic sovereignty and northern issues, follows a Canwest News Service story last week that highlighted potential frictions between the U.S. and Canada over fishing policies in a disputed section of the Beaufort north of Yukon and Alaska.
Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak says the European Union should not be
allowed to join the Arctic Council, given its proposal to ban the
import of seal products.
The EU is one of several bodies that have applied to be permanent
observers at the council, an intergovernmental forum comprising eight
Arctic countries, including Canada and the United States, as well as
Arctic indigenous groups.
Sunday will mark another annual day of protest against the Canadian
East Coast seal hunt. In various countries, anti-sealing protesters
will urge their governments to ban the seal hunt and the import of seal
This year, protesters will no doubt take satisfaction in knowing
that Belgium and the Netherlands have already defied world trade laws
to ban the import of seal products and that the European Union
Parliament is being pressed to do the same. Last week, an EU commission
voted to amend the proposed legislation so it would, in effect, be a
total ban on the import of seal products. Canadian Fisheries Minister
Gail Shea reacted by vowing that Ottawa would take immediate action at
the World Trade Organization in the event the amended legislation is
passed later this year by the EU Parliament. I commended Canada's
strong statement and repeated our intent to continue our traditional
Randy Boswell, CanWest News Service, February 14, 2009
A U.S. report urging a moratorium on Arctic Ocean fisheries north of
Alaska is putting pressure on Canada to produce its own sustainable,
long-term strategy for managing what scientists believe could become a
major new resource in the polar region's warming waters.
proposed ban on Arctic fishing by the U.S. North Pacific Fishery
Management Council - at least until researchers can fully assess the
impact of climate change and the retreat of sea ice on fish populations
widely believed to be moving northward - was quickly hailed by
environmentalists as a prudent and proactive response to the potential
bonanza for northern fishing fleets.
"The environment in
the Alaskan Arctic is changing, with warming trends in ocean
temperatures and changes in seasonal sea ice conditions potentially
favouring the development of commercial fisheries," the council
concluded. But it argued that the U.S. government should "close the
Arctic to commercial fishing so that unregulated fishing does not occur
... until information improves so that fishing can be conducted
sustainably and with due concern to other ecosystem components."
Byers, a University of British Columbia expert in polar politics, says
Canada needs to at least consider similar measures to protect and
foster a potentially lucrative Arctic fishery.
happens when - as is likely - biological activity between Canada's
Arctic islands [and] in Hudson Bay and the Beaufort Sea spikes as a result of
disappearing sea ice and the consequent increase in photosynthesis?" he
asks. "Serious attention does need to be directed to the issue, and
certain guiding principles applied, including the precautionary
principle and a principle of first access for indigenous peoples."
notes that securing sustainable aboriginal access to Arctic fish
resources is important "not just for equity reasons, but because
privileging Inuit fishermen could also strengthen Canada's sovereignty
claims" in the Far North. ...
Co-operative agreement between nations necessary to protect key areas, World Wildlife Fund reports
Bob Weber, Canadian Press, January 21, 2009
As more and more nations spell out their plans for increasingly
accessible Arctic waters, a study says huge gaps in international law
are leaving the sensitive region vulnerable to environmental damage
from a rush for resources. ... For the full text, see: http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/574423