Arctic Fishing Agreement

All signatory parties are expected to ratify the agreement. In Canada, the agreement will be presented to Parliament for 21 sitting days in the House of Commons, in accordance with the Policy on the Tabling of Treaties. At the end of this submission period, the Minister for Foreign Affairs may ask the Council, by means of a regulation, for the authorisation necessary for the ratification of the agreement. The programme will also provide the parties with more information to decide at some point in the future whether the agreement should be replaced by a treaty that would open and manage sustainable commercial fisheries on the basis of sound scientific evidence. These and other sources of friction, including a deterioration in U.S.-China relations under the Trump administration, have repeatedly threatened to derail the process of negotiating and signing the agreement and its entry into force. In the end, however, the governments concerned chose to set aside these differences on other issues in order to unite as partners to prevent unregulated commercial fishing in the central Arctic Ocean, a matter of mutual interest. Russia, which had repeatedly expressed concerns about the negotiation process, was the first country to ratify the agreement. The United States and others followed in a relatively short period of time. After some delay, China deposited its instrument at the end of May 2021, triggering its entry into force today, June 25, 2021.

Currently, there is no commercial fishing on the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean, an area the size of the Mediterranean. There is also no regional fisheries management organization or agreement for the whole area. However, due to the effects of climate change, it is not excluded that commercially interesting fish stocks may appear in the central Arctic Ocean in the medium and long term and lead to fishing activities. Two other aspects of the agreement are also worth mentioning: the integration of indigenous and local knowledge into relevant scientific programmes and work, and ensuring that Arctic indigenous peoples will participate in the implementation of the agreement. The agreement contains two fundamental obligations. First, the Parties will not allow their vessels to engage in commercial fishing activities on the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean. The commitment and support of these communities has led, among other things, to various international symposia to examine what is (little) known about the ecosystems of the central Arctic Ocean, to develop a research program to improve understanding of the region, and to gain support for the proposition that there should be no commercial fishing in the region. until much more is known. By August 2020, nine of the ten signatories had completed the ratification process of the agreement.

The Agreement will enter into force 30 days after receipt of the tenth and final instrument of ratification (once the ten Parties have ratified it) and will remain in force for 16 years. It is automatically extended for a further period of 5 years if the parties agree. As we mentioned earlier, the agreement has had a pull period of more than a decade. In 2008, the U.S. Congress passed one by President George W. Bush signed a joint resolution calling for the negotiation of such an agreement. Soon after, the United States adopted its first Arctic Fisheries Management Plan, which essentially banned commercial fishing in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone north of Alaska – in part because of a lack of scientific evidence needed for a successful fishery.

To proactively address this issue, the EU and nine countries signed this international agreement in 2018 after two years of negotiations. The agreement applies a precautionary, science-based approach to fisheries by banning unregulated fishing activities in the central Arctic Ocean, while establishing a joint scientific agenda to improve the Parties` understanding of ecosystems and potential fisheries. On the basis of the information obtained, the Parties may in future decide to open negotiations on the establishment of one or more regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements. The agreement will initially apply for a period of 16 years until 2037. That period shall be automatically extended by five years, unless one of the parties objects. This was a concern of the Arctic coastal states. Therefore, they decided to stop commercial fishing until better scientific evidence is available, and also to involve other states with fishing capacities on the high seas. The result was the International Agreement to Prevent Unregulated Fishing on the High Seas of the Central Arctic Ocean, signed in 2018 by Canada, Iceland, the Kingdom of Denmark, Norway, the United States and the Russian Federation, as well as China, Japan, South Korea and the European Union. The legally binding agreement to prevent unregulated deep-sea fishing in the central Arctic Ocean was signed on 3 October 2018 in Ilulissat, Greenland.

Once the agreement enters into force, it obliges the parties not to allow a vessel flying its flag to fish commercially in the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean. The agreement is valid for up to sixteen years and can be renewed in five-year increments. Since the CAOFA has only been approved by the State Council, this means that the CAOFA is not classified as an important agreement by the Chinese government. It is therefore unusual for China, in such a long process, to accept an international agreement that has already been reached through serious negotiations. This agreement provides a framework for cooperation between the Parties to better understand ecosystems in and along the Central Arctic Ocean. It prevents commercial fishing until adequate scientific information is available to support decision-making on the viability and sustainability of potential future fishing activities in the Convention area. The Parties intend to meet at least every two years to review progress in implementation and scientific information developed within the framework of a joint scientific research and monitoring programme. In Washington, D.C., an agreement in principle was reached to prevent unregulated fishing on the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean.

In accordance with Article 11, paragraph 1, of the CAOFA, the Agreement shall enter into force 30 days after the deposit of the instruments of ratification of all signatory Parties with Ottawa. China is the latest Arctic 5+5 country to be approved by CAOFA; the agreement is therefore expected to enter into force this month. The Arctic Five have long claimed a stewardship role in the Arctic. Nevertheless, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) grants States the freedom to fish on the high seas. The Central Arctic Ocean (CAO) around the North Pole is the high seas part of the Arctic where non-Arctic states enjoy certain fishing rights. Previously, OAC was covered in ice, with no commercial fishing activities, and was therefore out of sight of any regulatory effort. However, due to climate change, fish are moving north in a warming Arctic. As a result, commercial fishing in OAC could take place in the foreseeable future.

the ratification of important treaties and agreements is decided by the Standing Committee of the National People`s Congress. After the signing of an important treaty or agreement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the department subordinate to the Council of State, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, submits it to the Council of State for consideration and consideration; the Council of State then refers it to the Standing Committee of the National People`s Congress for a decision on ratification; the President of the People`s Republic of China ratifies it in accordance with the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People`s Congress […].