Arctic sea ice is melting, slowly but inexorably. As the ice disappears, mankind will be afforded access to regions and activities, including commercial fishing, that have been inaccessible for our entire recorded history. There is currently no regulatory body or mechanism in the high seas Arctic (also referred to as the central Arctic Ocean) to conserve and manage fish stocks, the distribution and concentration of which are poorly understood, and that might be the target of commercial fisheries. This article examines the extent and nature of ice recession in the Arctic, and its likely effect on the accessibility of central Arctic ocean fisheries to commercial exploitation. It then discusses what is known of Arctic fish stocks, both those already extant, and those that might become established or enhanced as a result of changing environmental conditions. It examines international regimes for managing fish stocks that exist either in whole or in part in global maritime commons, and existing fisheries governance mechanisms in the Arctic, and finds them to be lacking. Finally, using the Bering Sea Arctic pollock stock collapse case study as a historical analogue, this article contends that the time is now for putting in place a regional fisheries management organisation to manage and conserve central Arctic Ocean fish stocks.
Norris, A., & McKinley, P. (2017). The central Arctic Ocean-preventing another tragedy of the commons. Polar Record, 53 (1), 43-51. https://doi.org/10.1017/S003224741600067X