Global unity alleviating concern for Arctic overfishing

These days it’s hard to forget that our environment is changing and unfortunately, this change is not for the better. Everywhere you look there are images of rampant deforestation of our rainforests, or sea turtles caught in plastic, trying to remind us the importance of recycling. While these images may be overused, they are effective; they make us think about what we are doing to our environment. However, people still fail to discuss some effects of climate change that people fail to discuss that deserve the same amount of attention as these more common issues.

While the effects of climate change have already become apparent to the majority of people in the world, there are still some who do not believe this devastating phenomenon exists. However, even these non-believers cannot dispute the fact that our temperatures are rising and our polar ice caps are melting. There are multiple troubling effects that stem from global climate change, and it is this continued melting of our ice caps and subsequent rise in sea level that causes the most issues.

Although there are many consequences that stem from the melting of our polar ice caps other than the rise in our sea level, this unfortunately seems to be the only effect people are concerned with. However, it is clear that this is not the only result that should raise interest. In fact, the melting of this ice can cause other drastic changes in the ocean’s ecosystem, as well as to our own economy.

In this image provided by the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA, shows how low sea ice levels were in the Arctic this winter, alarming climate scientists. (National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA/AP)

In this image provided by the National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA, shows how low sea ice levels were in the Arctic this winter, alarming climate scientists. (National Snow and Ice Data Center and NASA/AP)

This past week, delegations from 10 nations met to discuss some of these effects, particularly with regards to the Arctic Ocean. As one of the world’s five oceans, the Arctic Ocean has been one of the least sought after bodies of water up until this point. The melting of large portions of ice in the Arctic ocean are changing this. As the disappearance of this ice is leading to a much wider range of accessibility in the area, countries will soon be racing to increase fishing supplies that were not previously available. However, previous situations similar to this one have proven that a sudden increase in a previously unfished area can lead to overfishing and a large economic failure: two issues that these delegations are hoping to prevent.

The last time an event of this sort occurred was in the 1980s regarding the Bering Sea, where many countries had almost 100 ships fishing for Pollock in previously undesignated territory. While the fishing was not illegal as it occurred in international waters, it did not follow any sort of regulation, thus leading to millions of tons of Pollock to be fished annually. Unfortunately, by the time a treaty was developed to regulate this fishing, the Pollock stock had collapsed and remains damaged to this day.

While it seems that irreparable damage was done to this fishing ground in the 1980s, the countries who met regarding future fishing in the Arctic Ocean are effectively preventing history from repeating itself. According to a press release from Arcticjournal.com, the countries that met recently have “reaffirmed their commitment to prevent unregulated high seas fishing in the central Arctic Ocean as well as a commitment to promote the conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources and to safeguard healthy marine ecosystems in the central Arctic Ocean." While many environmental conservation efforts are currently being overlooked in the United States, it is encouraging that these delegations have unanimously agreed to keep the health of these ecosystems as a top priority when delegating these waters.

While no formal decisions have been made in regard to actual numbers and land distribution in this Arctic territory, the early development of this project is a step in the right direction. Not only does this treaty provide hope from an environmental standpoint, but it also shows global unity between countries like China, Russia and the United States, and proves that we can work peacefully together to reach a common goal. This overall goal shows that it is possible for us to anticipate and solve problems, learn from our mistakes and grow as not only a nation, but as a global community.


Emma Hungaski is an opinion contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.hungaski@uconn.edu.