Min Pan, Henry P. Huntington


In recent years, up to 40% of the central Arctic Ocean has been ice-free in summer. This open water makes access possible for ordinary vessels, including fishing boats. The five Arctic Ocean coastal states (Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Norway, Russia, and the United States) have agreed to develop an international agreement to prohibit unregulated fishing in international waters of the central Arctic Ocean. Non-Arctic countries, including China, and regional organizations such as the European Union will be invited to join the ensuing negotiations. Participation would strengthen China's interest in Arctic affairs in a cooperative fashion, in contrast to a perception that China is interested solely in extracting Arctic resources and is thus a competitor with Arctic states. China's scientific capacity, including the icebreaker Xuelong (Snow Dragon), provides it with an  opportunity to practice marine and polar science diplomacy and to contribute further to Arctic cooperation and collaborative understanding. The precautionary approach of managing resources before extraction begins may make cooperative actions easier, as no one yet has a stake in the resource, and could provide a model for other regions that are developing international mechanisms for governance of international waters.


Central Arctic Ocean; China; Fisheries management; Policy; Science diplomacy


Min Pan: Center for Polar and Oceanic Studies, Tong Ji University, Shanghai, Peoples Republic of China

Henry P. Huntington: Pew Charitable Trusts, Eagle River, AK, USA