“We know very little about the current state of the fish stocks,” says Dr Hauke Flores, a biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), who will attend the conference as part of the EU delegation, serving as a scientific advisor from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture. In the EU commissioned research project EFICA (European Fisheries Inventory in the Central Arctic Ocean), he is working to improve our grasp of the Central Arctic’s ecosystem. Important field research in this regard was conducted e.g. on the MOSAiC expedition: here, the EFICA consortium took the first inventory of fish stocks in the Central Arctic. “Through our research, we’re taking the very first steps toward creating a basis of knowledge that could potentially support sustainable fishery management once the moratorium ends,” says Flores. Against the backdrop of rapid sea ice retreat and warming in the Arctic, it is important to know how endemic fish and the food web under the ice in the Central Arctic basins are faring.
At the first CAOFA Conference on 23 to 25 November, the goal will primarily be to agree on formal aspects, i.e., essentially on the rules of procedure for the Agreement. “I feel it’s important that here, too, we agree on the same type of rules used by scientific advisory councils. Then we can ensure that our research at the Alfred Wegener Institute truly serves to protect and sustainably manage the Arctic Ocean,” says Flores, describing his goals for the conference.
The Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean (Central Arctic Ocean Fisheries Agreement (CAOFA) for short) entered into force on 25 June 2021. The parties to the Agreement are: the European Union, Canada, China, Denmark (in connection with the Faroe Islands and Greenland), Iceland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea and the USA.
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