In DepthFisheries Science

Arctic nations eye fishing ban

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Science  15 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6283, pp. 278
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6283.278

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Delegates from nine countries and the European Union are meeting next week in Washington, D.C., to discuss a U.S. proposal to bar fishing in the central Arctic Ocean (CAO) until sufficient science is in place to inform regulation there. No commercial fishing now occurs in the CAO, but vanishing sea ice there is exposing shallow waters to vast amounts of new light, increasing primary production by 30% since 1998. That's raised the possibility that commercial fishing could move there, but regulators fear a repeat of the experience in the northern Bering Sea in the 1990s. There, unregulated factory trawlers operating in international waters basically extirpated walleye pollock before regulators had a chance to set international limits. Stocks of that fish have never recovered.