Proposal for a COUNCIL DECISION on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement to prevent unregulated high seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean
1. These two proposals relate, respectively, to the signing and conclusion, on behalf of the EU, of an agreement to prevent unregulated high seas fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean (“the Agreement”). The two proposals are both accompanied by annexes which contain the text of the Agreement.
2. The high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean is an area of roughly 2.8 million square kilometres surrounded by waters under the jurisdiction of Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia and the USA but which itself falls outside the jurisdiction of any state. Year round ice coverage has made commercial fishing in these waters impossible but conditions are changing and ice coverage has diminished in recent years.
3. The lack of a framework for the management of future fisheries represents a gap in the implementation of international ocean governance.
4. It is for these reasons that in its 2009 conclusions on the EU’s Arctic policy, the Council expressed readiness to consider a proposal to put in place an appropriate regulatory framework for the area and indicated that, until such a framework was in place, it favoured a temporary ban on new fisheries in these waters.
5. In 2016, the Council authorised the Commission to enter into negotiations on the Agreement on behalf of the EU. Negotiations took place with Canada, the People’s Republic of China, the Kingdom of Denmark in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland, Iceland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Norway, the Russian Federation and the USA and culminated in the agreement of a text in November 2017.