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Renita Jablonski: The U.S. agency that manages Alaska’s arctic waters will take an historic vote today. Global warming is rapidly melting the ice off the north coast of the state, creating a tempting new playground for commercial fishing. But federal fishery managers are stopping it before it starts. Sarah Gardner has this report from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk.
Sarah Gardner: The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is expected to recommend closing almost 200,000 square miles of U.S. ocean to industrial fishing. That’s an area larger than the state of California right off Alaska’s northern coast. Sea ice there has been melting much faster than expected and scientists don’t know what damage huge fishing trawlers might inflict.
Marine conservationist Christopher Krenz says putting a hold on fishing those waters is like a pre-emptive strike.
Christopher Krenz: And we’re hopeful that other industries will look at this approach as a way to sustainably manage the expansion of industrialization into the Arctic.
Krenz is referring to potential undersea oil and gas exploration. The Pew Environment Group says if the Secretary of Commerce approves this fishing closure, it’ll signify the first major effort by the U.S. to protect the Arctic marine ecosystem.
I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.
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