U.S. Arctic Might Soon Close to Commercial Fishing

With the Arctic Ocean opening up due to global warming, the opportunities for travel through a “Northwest Passage” may be exploited by companies that move large supplies of goods across the globe.  The open areas probably won’t however, be available to commercial fishing, as the cooler heads in Washington now are thinking ahead, and wish to avoid a disaster that might be unable to be recovered from.

The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans have been seriously overfished in the areas near the continental United States, and eliminating the possibility of a similar situation in the Arctic is paramount if we are to have viable fishing available to future generations. In the Pacific Northwest, several salmon species have already been decimated by overfishing coupled with the elimination of needed spawning grounds due to hydroelectric production.

from Scientific American

All U.S. waters north of the Bering Strait may soon be closed to commercial fishing. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council—the government body charged with administering Alaskan waters—voted unanimously in Seattle today to close 196,000 square miles (507,600 square kilometers) of ocean to any fishing.

“This will close the Arctic to all commercial fishing,” says Jim Ayers, vice president for Pacific and Arctic affairs at ocean conservation organization Oceana, based in Juneau, who testified before the vote. “This is the beginning of a concept of large protected marine areas.”

These seas—U.S. territorial waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas—are not currently fished, but sea ice melt and the northward migration of certain fish species, such as salmon, raises the possibility that they would be in the not too distant future. This vote precludes that possibility unless scientific studies showed that such fishing would not harm Arctic ecosystems or the traditional lifestyle of indigenous populations.

“There is at present too little known about how marine ecosystems function in the Arctic, let alone how they will respond to the dramatic changes in progress, to prescribe safe harvest levels for living marine resources in the U.S. Arctic,” 43 marine scientists said in a letter to the Council chair. “Until the rate and likely duration of sea ice losses as well as the ensuing ecosystem responses are better understood, closing the U.S. Arctic to commercial fishing is a prudent measure.”

NO TRAWLING: Fishing trawlers like the one pictured here would be banned from fishing in U.S. waters north of the Bering Strait, under a new proposal.

more here

Preserving, and maintaining the delicate balance of the sea is so important to life as we know it. Not only did life begin there, it remains the largest buffer against the stupidity of humans. With the numbers of people being born into the world, the vastness of the waters will no longer be able to tolerate the onslaught of negligent humanity, so steps must immediately be taken to avoid further damage to them.

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