Managing sustainable marine fishing in the Arctic

Conference on Bioresources and Fisheries in Russia

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The Conference on Bioresources and Fisheries in the Arctic addressed ways to develop the fishery industry

Participants in the Conference on Bioresources and Fisheries in the Arctic, which took place in Arkhangelsk, Russia, in May as part of the plan of events of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021–2023, discussed various aspects of working with and conserving biological resources in the Arctic, the development of the fishery industry, and the regulation of traditional types of marine fishing. The Roscongress Foundation manages the events of Russia’s chairmanship.

The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic. Its members include Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

“When implementing major infrastructure and investment projects in the Arctic zone, it is crucial that we be guided by the principles of the responsible, sustainable management of marine resources. As one of the main traditional economic activities, fishing is of vital importance for the people living in the region, above all for the Indigenous peoples. As such, conserving and maintaining bioresources as well as monitoring of the Arctic ecosystems is a primary objective. The Arctic faces numerous challenges, one of which concerns the climate and environmental agenda. Uncontrolled human intervention in the natural processes taking place in the region could have extremely negative ramifications for the entire ecosystem of the Arctic region,” ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nikolay Korchunov said.

The key event of the conference was the plenary session ‘Aquatic Biological Resources. Fisheries and Stock Conservation in the Arctic’, during which the participants discussed an analysis of the current state of the fishery industry in the northern latitudes, new opportunities for fishing as a result of climate change, as well as the effective management of these activities based on scientific data. The plenary session was moderated by TASS News Agency official spokeswoman Viktoria Kladieva.

“We have recently conducted a large number of scientific studies, our scientific vessels have made two transarctic crossings, and experts have studied the fish stocks of the entire Arctic. Climate change is taking place and it is crucial to monitor the changes in the distribution of reserves, including in the Laptev Sea and other Arctic seas. The data we have accumulated will help to more accurately predict what will happen in the Arctic from a scientific standpoint,” Federal Agency for Fishery director Ilya Shestakov said.

The conference addressed issues related to international cooperation in the study and management of fish stocks in the Arctic.

“Considering the changing geopolitical situation, we will find opportunities in and cooperate with states with which we have signed agreements on scientific research. We will negotiate and work out the appropriate solutions together with them. For example, China is our long-standing partner in the fisheries sector and one of our main trading partners. We have several fishing agreements with China in the Far East. As a result of our shared interests, the fishing industry has always remained out of politics. Remember that when the stocks of the Barents Sea were virtually destroyed in the 1970s, the USSR and Norway signed an agreement on the joint management of stocks in the Barents and Norwegian Seas. As a result, it became possible to preserve the ecosystem, after which other countries recognized the mechanism of the [Joint Russian-Norwegian Fisheries Commission] as one of the best fish stock management systems. I think there should be a similar system in the Arctic. We will try to negotiate and work in the Arctic together with other countries. But, of course, it should be on equal terms. This is the only way to preserve and increase stocks,” Shestakov said.

The conference program also included seven roundtables and one seminar, during which experts looked at ways to develop fisheries infrastructure in the Arctic as well as monitor and preserve ecosystems, and assessed the stocks of anadromous fish species in the Arctic zone and an HR policy to provide enterprises in the region with specialists. 

During the International Seminar on the Development of Aquaculture in the Arctic, experts discussed measures to set up the production of Russian feed and planting material to the extent needed for the stable production of commercial products.

“In the near future, the potential of the northern seas will show a significant increase in the catch and volume of aquatic bioresources that can be put into the stream of commerce. We see prospects in this. The Northern Sea Route will be the driving force behind the development of all northern territories in the near future,” Arkhangelsk Region governor Alexander Tsybulsky said.

The conference participants included representatives of key ministries, agencies, and the government as well as experts from the scientific and business communities.

The first Conference on Bioresources and Fisheries in the Arctic was organized by the Federal Agency for Fishery, the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic, and the Arkhangelsk Region government.

During its chairmanship of the Arctic Council, Russia pays special attention to coordinated measures to protect, preserve, and restore the Arctic environment, conduct climate studies, strengthen environmental security, including the prevention of environmental emergencies, as well as the sustainable use of the Arctic region’s natural resources for the environmental and socioeconomic well-being of the present and future generations of people living in the region. 

In particular, Russia pays close attention to the conservation and restoration of the diversity of Arctic flora and fauna as well as the protection of biological species and their habitats.

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