You might remember—vaguely, you know—hearing something about the Arctic ice melting. (It’s a totally insignificant event that made a few minor papers [registration required].) But you may have overlooked the fishmonger’s side of the story. Under all that ice, you see, is water, and there’s fish in them waters. The shrinking ice has revealed a truly rare thing: an unexploited fishery—a fecund stock of seafood that hasn’t been commercially fished. (Of course, all those fish don’t live only in Arctic waters, so there’s what you might call an I-drink-your-milkshake problem here.)
“[A]s the climate changes, the ice recedes, the water warms, we should be expecting and anticipating that there could be major commercial fisheries north of the Bering Strait,” a State Department official said at a recent Senate committee meeting. As the Anchorage Daily News reports, government officials will have to negotiate with Canada and Russia over a joint approach to the new region. (That may be tricky: Russia is notorious for having a nearly lawless fishery.) Norway’s already seen poaching in the open waters to its north. Meanwhile, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) has proposed that the waters should be closed until there’s a full stock assessment and a management plan in place. It’s a proposal of almost stunning sense.