Commercial Fishing Is Barred in Parts of Arctic
Friday, February 6, 2009; Page A02
Federal fisheries managers have voted to bar all commercial fishing in U.S. waters from north of the Bering Strait and east to the Canadian border in light of the rapid climate changes that are transforming the Arctic.
In a unanimous vote yesterday, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council ruled that scientists and policymakers need to better assess how global warming is affecting the region before allowing fishing on stocks such as Arctic cod, saffron cod and snow crab.
"There's concern over unregulated fishing, there's concern about warming, there's concern about how commercial fishing might affect resources in the region, local residents and subsistence fishing and the ecosystem as a whole," said Bill Wilson, a council aide.
Environmentalists and fishing interests praised the move as sensible, given the changes to ice cover and other features of the Arctic environment.
The Marine Conservation Alliance -- an association representing fishermen and processors who harvest groundfish and crab off Alaska's coast -- endorsed the council's decision to close an area spanning nearly 200,000 square miles, an area nearly twice as large as the U.S. national park system.