Geopolitics, Governance, and Arctic Fisheries Politics

In Elena Conde and Sara Iglesias S├ínchez (eds), Global Challenges in the Arctic Region: Sovereignty, Environment and Geopolitical Balance. London, Routledge, 2017, pp. 170-195.

This chapter argues that we are not experiencing a resurgence of geopolitical conflict over Arctic fisheries. Regional as well as non-Arctic states are adhering to the existing allocation of competence, and for good reasons. Marine living resources are found preponderantly within regional EEZs - and altering the basic deal underlying today’s legal order for the Arctic would go counter to the interests of not only the leading Arctic powers but those of the geopolitically ascendant Asian states as well. Firm and pervasive interest in the existing legal structure also explains why ongoing efforts to create a high-seas fisheries management body for the Arctic will probably have to open up for non-Arctic participation if it is to provide the means for avoiding a tragedy-of-the-commons outcome should fish stocks become more available outside the regional EEZs. Similarly, the enmeshment of Arctic fisheries in broader and sometimes global production and distribution chains poses challenges to governance efforts that can be met only by mobilizing broader institutions.

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