A New Regime Established for Regulating Fisheries in the Arctic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Central Arctic Ocean, i.e. that part of the water areas surrounding the North Pole beyond the exclusive economic zones of the five Arctic rim countries, is about to become the first ocean on the globe where commercial fisheries will be prohibited awaiting scientific evidence that such activities can be undertaken in a sustainable manner. The fact that prevailing ice conditions have in the past simply prevented any fishing activities to be conducted in the area, and probably will continue to do so in the short and medium term, helps to explain this differential treatment when compared to the other oceans where it was rather the depletion of stocks that finally urged States to start curbing their fishing efforts on the high seas in order to arrive at a sustainable level allowing the continuation of their activities as to the future. Starting from the early seal and whaling conventions concluded during the late 19th and early 20th century, the international community slowly came to realize that fish resources are not inexhaustible as it was generally believed to be the case for most, if not all commercially exploited species on the high seas until the end of the 19th century. The present contribution first takes a closer look at the peculiar manner in which this process to protect the Central Arctic Ocean has taken shape in practice. It subsequently highlights some of the provisions of the final document in order to better understand the way in which this highly unusual international legally binding document intends to shape the future of capture fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean. The conclusion will be reached that the legal regime of the Arctic, like that of any other ocean, is firmly rooted in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and that fishery activities do not form an exception to that rule. In the near future it will therefore rather appertain to the five rim countries facing the Arctic Ocean to deal with the temperature driven northern movement of fish when these resources start to enter their respective exclusive economic zones in greater numbers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-437
Number of pages22
JournalZeitschrift für Europäisches Umwelt- und Planingsrecht
Issue number2019/4
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventHamburg International Environmental Law Conference - Bucerius Law School, Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 4 Apr 20195 Apr 2019


  • international law of the sea
  • Arctic
  • Fisheries


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