EUROPEAN Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki has told a Norwegian fishing audience that what is happening in the Arctic will have serious consequences for the European Union and the rest of the world.
Speaking in Oslo this week, she told the Norwegian fishing vessel and ship owners: "We are told that by the end of 2013 the Arctic Ocean could be entirely ice free and that the ice is decreasing faster than all models predicted. A recent and alarming study from NASA confirms this.
"In fact we know - from a programme on climate change and marine ecosystems research that the EU funded - that the melting ice in the Arctic has an impact on ocean circulation and migration of sea-life that extends down to the Mediterranean. "
She argued that climate change in the Arctic was a call to action for all. Everything seems to point to time running faster in this fragile and unique sea basin.
Ms Damanaki continued: "What’s happening there is our common concern. It is our common responsibility to tackle not only the risks but also the opportunities that are opening, in order to ensure the sustainable development of the Arctic.
"The EU plays its role here. We are a constructive and dynamic actor of the Arctic community and we are committed to the policy objectives defined in our Communication on the Arctic of November 2008. There are three objectives:
· We have to contribute to the preservation of the Arctic with the people of the region.
· We have to ensure that the emerging industrialisation and exploitation of the Arctic resources follow the highest environmental and safety standards and are accessible to all businesses on a level playing field.
· We have to contribute to enhanced governance in the Arctic by implementing the relevant agreements, frameworks and arrangements."
She also praised Norway as a country with a success story in combining economic interests with ethical considerations and sustainable development.
"I tell myself that a country that invests the lion's share of its oil riches on improving the everyday lives of Norwegians is an ethical compass that could provide a model for other nations," she added.
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