The Council received a presentation from Jean-Pierre Plé (NFS Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection) and Candace Nachman (NMFS Office of Policy) on development of an international agreement to prevent the start of commercial fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO) for at least 16 years while scientists study the effects of climate change on the CAO and its ability to sustain commercial fisheries. The agreement was signed by 10 participants at a meeting in Greenland in 2018, and is designed to prevent unregulated fishing in the high-seas portion of the CAO as part of a long-term strategy to safeguard the health of the CAO ecosystem and promote the sustainable use of fish stocks.
Dr. Plé provided an overview of the agreement and the expected schedule for the U.S. to ratify the agreement. Ratification can occur by executive action and does not require advice and consent of the Senate. A meeting of the signatories to the agreement is being hosted by Canada in May 2019, additional information about ratification and implementation of the agreement, as well as the text of the agreement, will be available once the agreement is ratified by all participant nations. He extended to the Council the opportunity to comment on exploratory fisheries strategies for the CAO, following on from a Council discussion paper in February 2018 wherein exploratory fishing protocols for various RFMOs and international agreements were summarized.
The Council, during staff tasking, directed the Executive Director to prepare a letter expressing the Council’s appreciation for the presentation and signaling the Council’s interest in remaining informed of the development of the agreement and requirements for exploratory fishing in the agreement area. Staff contact is Steve MacLean.