Warming Arctic being exploited by trawlers
Ice melt in the Arctic Ocean is opening up previously untouched areas to industrial fishing fleets using ecologically risky bottom trawling methods, writes Joe Sandler Clarke. Ecosystems supporting walruses, polar bears, puffins and other sea birds could be stripped bare.
Bottom trawling is widely considered to be the among most destructive fishing techniques, with vast nets catching fish as they are dragged along the sea bed.
Using official data and ship tracking systems, researchers found that large numbers of fishing vessels owned by major companies have taken advantage of melting sea ice to fish in previously impossible to reach parts of the Norwegian and Russian Arctic.
As climate change has caused the Arctic sea ice to recede the trawlers are slowly moving into a part of the Barents sea above 78 degrees north which used to be inaccessible.
Home to Arctic puffins, walruses and Polar bears, the region is one of Europe's largest marine ecosystems, and has until recently been relatively untouched.
The move comes as fishing in the region increases dramatically. Data from the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries shows an increase in the amount of fish being caught in the Barents Sea in recent years - from 2% of the Norwegian quota for the region in 2001, to 11% in 2014, the most recent data available.
Image shows fishing trawler making its way across the Arctic ice. Photo: tpsdave via Pixabay (CC0 1.0)
Read more at ENN Affiliate, Ecologist: Joe Sandler Clarke / Greenpeace Energydesk