Norway ratifies Agreement on unregulated fishing in the central Arctic Ocean

After the Norwegian Parliament approved a new agreement that aims to prevent unregulated fishing in the central Arctic Ocean and promote scientific research in the region, Norway now ratifies the Agreement.

This agreement is an important part of the global framework for fisheries management. It establishes precautionary measures before any fisheries are started in the region. This will make it possible to avoid the problems the world has experienced in other areas where unregulated fishing activities have developed in the past,’ said Minister of Fisheries Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen.

‘The new Agreement will be important in protecting the central Arctic Ocean against unregulated fishing, and it highlights the special responsibilities and interests of Norway and the other coastal States in fisheries management in the region. The Agreement will play a part in implementation of the Law of the Sea in the Arctic, and it clarifies the rights and obligations of coastal States and distant water fishing nations and entities in the central Arctic Ocean,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

The Parties undertake not to permit their own vessels to fish in the international part of the central Arctic Ocean until international conservation and management measures have been established. The agreement will form part of the existing international regulatory framework for States’ rights and obligations in international waters.

In the years ahead, further development of the research cooperation will be important. The agreement includes an ambition to establish a joint research and monitoring programme. One of its aims will be to assess the possibilities of sustainable harvesting of fish stocks in the area in the future. Norway considers it important to make use of the expertise of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) in this connection.

About the agreement:

  • Most of the central Arctic Ocean is within the 200 nautical mile zones of the five coastal states, but part of it is international waters. This area is currently ice-covered for much of the year, and there is no commercial fishing. However, if the ice cover shrinks in the future, fishing activities may be possible in the decades ahead.
  • The agreement has been negotiated by the five coastal States surrounding the central Arctic Ocean – Norway, Canada, Denmark, Russia and the US, – and five distant water fishing nations and entities – the EU, China, Iceland, Japan and South Korea. It establishes a regional regulatory regime in line with the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • The Agreement follows on from the Declaration concerning the Prevention of Unregulated High Seas Fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean, which was signed by the coastal States in Oslo in 2015. Negotiations for the Agreement were completed in 2017 and it was signed in Ilulissat, Greenland, on 3 October 2018. The Storting consented to ratification on 31 March 2020. The Agreement will enter into force 30 days after all ten signatories have consented to be bound by it. So far, eight of the signatories have done so.