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Commercial Fishing



Canada ratifies unregulated fishing treaty. Canada has ratified the historic Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean. This is the first international agreement of this magnitude to be reached before any commercial fishing has taken place in a high seas area.

The Agreement was signed by Canada and nine other Parties in October 2018. This legally binding agreement prohibits commercial fishing in the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean for a period of at least 16 years after it enters into force, and commits the signatories to a joint program of scientific research and monitoring to improve understanding of the ecosystems in and surrounding the central Arctic Ocean to determine if fish stocks may one day be sustainably harvested in this area. The Agreement also provides for the participation and inclusion of Arctic Indigenous peoples and their communities, recognizing the critical value of their local knowledge in the conservation of the Arctic Ocean.

The Arctic and its future is a priority for the Government of Canada. This agreement is part of Canada’s broad efforts to contribute to international oceans governance and to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU). IUU fishing is a global issue affecting fish populations and the health and sustainability of our oceans. Ensuring that a robust science and management regime is in place before fisheries can occur will help protect the ecosystem and the environment should any future fishing ‎occur in the region.

The Government of Canada continues to build on this momentum of international collaboration by hosting a meeting of signatories to the Agreement from May 29 to 30, 2019 in Ottawa. This preparatory meeting will focus on addressing outstanding issues  to ensure a smooth entry into force of the Agreement, including the development and planning for the Joint Program of Scientific Research and Monitoring under the Agreement.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, said: “Canada is leading the way to protect our oceans and combat illegal fishing. That is why we were at the forefront of the negotiations for this historic agreement to protect the central Arctic Ocean. We continue to work with Indigenous peoples, territorial governments, the fishing industry, environmental groups, and our international partners to ensure responsible ocean stewardship and to help protect the Arctic’s fragile ecosystems for future generations.”