Arctic Yearbook 2012
CAFF working group, but has not been pursued to date.
As Koivurova and Molenaar argue, there is currently considerable opposition within the membership
of the Arctic Council to it becoming actively involved in fisheries management and conservation
, and despite its obvious importance the issue wasn’t even mentioned in the 2011 Nuuk
Declaration. This is an important issue that deserves the attention of the Arctic Council, and the
discussion of and preparation for an Arctic RFMO falls fairly squarely within its mandate.
Future Prospects for Arctic Governance
It is clear that Arctic governance has undergone fundamental changes in the past five years, as has
the region in general. There are many obvious external factors that have influenced this change, but
the evolution in general fits within broader patterns of institutionalization. By assessing these
patterns, we can estimate how far down the path of institutionalization and legalization that Arctic
governance is likely to travel.
First, climate change has created a functional need – thus serving as a catalyst – for the building of
regional institutions in the Arctic. As early as twenty years ago, the level of human activity in the
Arctic Ocean would not have justified political intervention in any of the issue areas outlined above.
Such a level of interdependence on environmental issues – as opposed to trade or traditional
security – is relatively uncommon when looking at other major geopolitical regions of the world,
which tend to develop around land bases. However issues of ocean and environmental security are
very well disposed to regional (rather than national or global) solutions, for pragmatic as well as
political reasons. Pragmatically, marine environments have complete disregard for land borders, and
so it makes no sense to manage fish stocks, pollution prevention, or even shipping on a national
basis. Politically, environmental security issues lend themselves more easily to cooperation because
there is no security dilemma. That is, as opposed to traditional security matters, where security gains
by one state lead to a decrease in the relative security of its competitors, when it comes to
environmental security, gains by one are gains for all. It is in everyone’s best interest to promote
policies of sustainability in their neighbours, even if they are themselves unwilling to take on the
costs of prevention and protection in their own territory. Thus, one can expect regional cooperation
and governance frameworks in the Arctic to continue to revolve around responses to the challenges
imposed by global warming and the increase in human activity it will bring.