On October 3, 2018, Canada signed an international agreement to prevent unregulated commercial deep-sea fishing in the central Arctic Ocean. This agreement provides all signatories with a framework for cooperation to better understand the region`s ecosystems and prevent commercial fishing until sufficient scientific information is available to inform management measures. This agreement is an important part of the global fisheries management framework. It sets precautions before fishing begins in the area. This will avoid the problems the world has encountered in other areas where unregulated fishing activities have developed in the past,“ said Emil Ingebrigtsen, Minister of Fisheries Inland. The parties to the agreement will meet at least every two years to review progress in implementation and scientific information developed as part of a joint scientific research and monitoring programme. „The new agreement will be important to protect the central Arctic Ocean from unregulated fishing and highlights the special responsibilities and interests of Norway and other coastal states in fisheries management in the region. The agreement will play a role in the implementation of arctic law and will clarify the rights and obligations of coastal states and nations and long-range fishing facilities in the central Arctic Ocean,“ said Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Seride. An important feature of CAOFA is that it must not undermine the existing legal order and the positions of the parties in this area, including other fisheries agreements such as the CPANE (Article 14). This concept is also reflected in the provisions that determine the scope of the CAOFA. This agreement provides a framework for Canada and other parties: overall, CAOFA can be characterized as a bare instrument of a precautionary approach to fisheries conservation and management (see Article 6 and UnFSA Appendix 11).
It remains to be seen whether this approach will be implemented effectively. „the only high-seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean surrounded by waters in which Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark exercise fishing jurisdiction over Greenland, the Kingdom of Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States of America“ (Article 1, point a), see map).