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Nations hope to reel in Arctic overfishing

The full Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience (GLACIER) Conference on Aug. 31.

On Monday, the United States hosts the leaders of 20 nations at a conference on critical issues facing the Arctic. One topic at the conference in Anchorage, Alaska, is potential overfishing in the central Arctic Ocean.

Although the administration says commercial fishing isn’t widespread in the Arctic now, warming temperatures are melting the sea ice and creating opportunities for large-scale fishing, along with competition among nations to do it.

Polar bears romp in the northwestern Murmansk region of Russia on Aug. 13, 2015. Photo by Alexander Petrosyan/Kommersant via Getty Images

Polar bears romp in the northwestern Murmansk region of Russia on Aug. 13, 2015. Photo by Alexander Petrosyan/Kommersant via Getty Images

The five countries surrounding the Arctic – Canada, Denmark representing Greenland, Norway, Russia and the United States – signed a declaration in July saying they wouldn’t authorize their vessels to fish until an international agreement was put in place to manage the practice.

But they want to bring more nations on board, and one of the sessions addresses unregulated high seas fisheries. In addition to the Arctic nations, the State Department has invited leaders of other countries with interests in the Arctic, including China, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

President Barack Obama, who made waves in May among the conservation community for approving Royal Dutch Shell’s lease to drill two oil exploration wells off the Alaskan coast, plans to speak at the conference’s conclusion.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite image shows the sea ice off Greenland on July 16, 2015 in this image released on Aug. 24, 2015. As the northern hemisphere experiences the heat of summer, ice moves and melts in the Arctic waters and the far northern lands surrounding it. Photo: NASA handout via Reuters

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite image shows the sea ice off Greenland on July 16, 2015 in this image released on Aug. 24, 2015. As the northern hemisphere experiences the heat of summer, ice moves and melts in the Arctic waters and the far northern lands surrounding it. Photo: NASA handout via Reuters

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