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Scientists call for Arctic fishing moratorium


A fishing boat cruises in the Ilulissat fjord, on Greenland's western coast.


Slim Allagui

Scientists urged Arctic rim nations on Monday to halt industrial fishing in the Arctic Ocean until fish stocks are analyzed.

An open letter signed by over 2000 scientists from 67 counties appealed to the leaders of Canada, the US, Russia, Norway and Denmark to design an international accord in order to prevent the sudden depletion of Arctic-dwelling fish species.

"Now is the time for the international community to create a precautionary management system for central Arctic Ocean fisheries," read the letter, according to the Toronto Sun.

"Such a system should postpone fishing activity until such time as the biology and ecology of the region are understood sufficiently well to allow for setting scientifically sound catch levels," the statement went on to say.

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Researchers said that the loss of permanent sea ice in the Arctic has opened up about 40 percent of the northern ocean during the summer.

With less ice, industrial-style fishing using trawlers has become possible for the first time in the region.

According to the Globe and Mail, the US and Denmark already have Arctic fishing legislation on their books.

Yet, Russia, Canada and Norway still do not.

More than 60 percent of the scientists who signed the petition are from Arctic rim countries said QMI.

There are worries among observers that without more regulation, China, which is seeking a greater presence in the region, will send its fleets into the Arctic to trawl for fish.