Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 428

428 Arctic Yearbook 2015 regional and global bodies were proposed by interested states and entities. No consensus among the Arctic Five could be reached for any of these proposals. By the end of 2009 or at least by early 2010, the Arctic Five agreed that if a new international instrument on Arctic Ocean fisheries should be developed at all – which was not yet evident for all five by then – its development should be initiated and led by the Arctic Five outside the framework of (other) existing mechanisms. For this purpose, the Arctic Five have, since March 2010, convened a number of policy/governance meetings at senior officials level, alongside a series of science meetings. The former includes three meetings on which information was made publicly available, namely in June 2010 (Oslo), in April/May 2013 (Washington D.C.) and in February 2014 (Nuuk). Other meetings on which information was not made publicly available have also been held, both before June 2010 and after February 2014. Science meetings have been convened in June 2011 (Anchorage), October 2013 (Tromsø) and April 2015 (Seattle), the last one also involving scientists from China, Iceland, Japan and South Korea. The Declaration signed in Oslo was already envisaged in the Chairman’s Statement of the February 2014 Nuuk meeting and was scheduled to be signed at ministerial level in June 2014. The Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea and the subsequent events in Eastern Ukraine disrupted these plans and for a while it was uncertain if these and ‘The Way Forward’ agreed to in Nuuk would ever come to fruition. The Oslo Declaration – signed at ambassadorial rather than ministerial level, probably instigated by Canada in view of the many Canadians with Ukrainian descent – brought an end to this uncertainty and confirmed that the consensus that existed in Nuuk had remained largely intact. The most important commitment of the Oslo Declaration is that the Arctic Five will implement an interim measure that authorizes their vessels “to conduct commercial fishing in [the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean] only pursuant to one or more regional or subregional fisheries management organizations or arrangements that are or may be established to manage such fishing in accordance with recognized international standards.” The wording is identical to that agreed in Nuuk, except for the substitution of “modern” by “recognized,” which is arguably not a very significant change. As already said above, this commitment cannot be equated with a ‘moratorium’, ‘ban’ or ‘freeze of fishing effort’ as it still allows fishing pursuant to existing or new regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements (RFMOs/As). The Oslo Declaration’s explicit reference to the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) – whose mandate extends to part of the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean – amounts to a recognition that NEAFC is one such existing RFMO/A. A similar explicit recognition of the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission (Joint Commission) is not included in the Oslo Declaration, even though its geographical mandate implicitly includes the entire Arctic Ocean, and Norway and the Russian Federation appear to view it as an RFMA. However, for a number of reasons – more relating to geopolitics than international law – it does not seem very likely that Norway and the Russian Federation will authorize their vessels to engage in commercial fishing in the high seas of the central Arctic Ocean exclusively pursuant to regulation by the Joint Commission. First of all, their participation in the Arctic Five’s process on Arctic Ocean fisheries already reflects their support for a multilateral rather than a bilateral approach. Moreover, The Oslo Declaration on High Seas Fishing