Arctic Fisheries under Major Stress
08.02.2011 - Water & Oceans, Flora & Fauna, Arctic
Researchers from the University of British Columbia estimate that fisheries catches in the Arctic between 1950 and 2006 likely amounted to 950,000 tonnes – almost 75 times the amount believed to have been caught over the same period.
In their study, published in the journal Polar Biology, the research team reconstructed fisheries catch data from various sources for an Arctic coastal region in northern Siberia, Arctic Alaska and the Canadian Arctic known under the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as Fisheries Statistical Area 18.
The scientists say that “Ineffective reporting, due to governance issues and a lack of credible data on small-scale fisheries, has given us a false sense of comfort that the Arctic is still a pristine frontier when it comes to fisheries.” This new research, they say, provides a more accurate background against which to monitor changes in fish catches and inform policy and conservation efforts.
As fish stocks migrate northwards as a consequence of climate change, the increased accessibility of the Arctic Ocean, will put more pressure on fish stocks.