Fishing Banned in Melting Arctic

Federal panel moves to block trawlers from newly accessible waters
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2009 5:07 AM CST
The Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks ice to support scientific research in the Arctic Ocean near Barrow, Alaska.   (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, Prentice Danner)
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(Newser) – A federal panel has voted to block fishing trawlers from moving into a vast area of the Arctic Sea made newly accessible by melting ice, the New York Times reports. The move will protect 150,000 square nautical miles of US waters north of the Bering Strait while scientists assess commercial fishing's impact on the ecosystem.

The fishing industry and marine conservation groups both backed the move, which they say is the first time the US has acted to protect a fishery before its collapse. An industry spokesman said commercial fishermen hope the moratorium will be a model for a wider agreement on management of the Arctic. Indigenous people in the affected area will be allowed to continue fishing as they always have.