Moratorium on commercial fishing of the Beaufort Sea

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Area of the moratorium -- the cross-hatched wedge-shaped region is claimed by both Canada and the USA.

On August 20 2009 United States Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke announced a moratorium on fishing the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska.[1][2]

According to Locke:

“As Arctic sea ice recedes due to climate change, there is increasing interest in commercial fishing in Arctic waters. We are in a position to plan for sustainable fishing that does not damage the overall health of this fragile ecosystem. This plan takes a precautionary approach to any development of commercial fishing in an area where there has been none in the past.”

There is no widespread commercial fisheries in those waters now.[3]

The moratorium was imposed in anticipation that global warming would make those waters accessible to commercial fisheries. The moratorium stirred controversy in Canada because the region where the USA announced the moratorium included a large wedge-shaped region of disputed waters.[2] Randy Boswell, of wrote that the disputed area covered a 21,436 square kilometres (8,276 sq mi) section of the Beaufort Sea. He wrote that Canada had filed a "diplomatic note" with the USA in April when the USA first announced plans for the moratorium. Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, called the U.S. moratorium over the disputed waters in the Beaufort Sea as the "largest encroachment on Canadian territory in our history."[4]


  1. ^ "Secretary of Commerce approves fisheries plan for ArcticSecretary of Commerce approves fisheries plan for Arctic". World of fishing. 2009-08-20. Archived from the original on 2009-09-15. 
  2. ^ a b Randy Boswell (2009-09-04). "Canada protests U.S. Arctic fishing ban". Archived from the original on 2009-09-15. 
  3. ^ Mead Treadwell (2009-08-20). "U.S. strategic interests in the age of an accessible Arctic … what we need to know and do now" (PDF). United States Senate. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-09-15. 
  4. ^ Canada, U.S. flip-flop positions in Beaufort Sea boundary dispute,, March 8, 2010