OTTAWA, ONTARIO – The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, issued the following statement today:
“As the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, I am proud to announce that Canada has reached an historic agreement in principle today in Washington, D.C. to prevent unregulated commercial fishing in the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean. It’s the first time an international agreement of this magnitude has been reached before any commercial fishing takes place on a region of the high seas.
Under this legally binding agreement, all Parties agree that no commercial fishing will take place in the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean while we gain a better understanding of the area’s ecosystems, and appropriate conservation and management measures can be established.
Leading up to this agreement, Canada has worked closely for many years with the other central Arctic Ocean coastal States: Denmark in respect of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Norway, Russia, and the United States. We have also worked with China, Iceland, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the European Union who have demonstrated an interest in cooperating with Coastal States in this area.
Together we have taken a strong proactive and precautionary approach to potential fishing activities in the central Arctic Ocean as climate change continues to have a major impact in the area. The melting polar ice cap is opening up this once frozen frontier to fishing, shipping, resource development and other interests. Canada and the other Parties have committed to a program of joint scientific research and monitoring to gain a better knowledge of Arctic Ocean ecosystems and the potential for sustainable fisheries in the future.
Throughout the negotiation process, we have engaged with Inuit organizations including representatives of the Inuit Circumpolar Council who were on the Canadian delegation to the negotiations and with key stakeholders including Territorial governments, the fishing industry, and environmental groups, to seek their views and input.
The final text recognizes Arctic Indigenous Peoples’ interests, the value of Indigenous knowledge in decision making, and provides for their inclusion in the process moving forward.
The Government of Canada is committed to pursuing a Nation-to-Nation relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of this country and will continue to engage them and other northern residents in decisions about the Arctic Ocean.
To everyone who has worked tirelessly to support Canada’s participation in this historic agreement, I sincerely thank you for your dedication.”
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard