Fishing in the Arctic - is there a sustainable approach?

Listen to the event podcast

With climate change causing sea ice to retreat, large areas of the Arctic that were previously inaccessible are opening up to potential exploitation. ZSL scientist Monni Bohm interviews the event panel to discuss how best we can manage Arctic waters.



As ice retreats in the Arctic, previously inaccessible areas of northern ocean are opening up to potential exploitation. 

Conservationists are concerned about the effects of activities (e.g. expansion of fishing) in these previously unimpacted regions, with many calling for the creation of new Arctic marine reserves. 

Although protected zones are vital conservation tools, societies and economies depend heavily on resources from the ocean, and the reality is that many areas of marine habitat, often those characterised by high biodiversity and productivity, will never be fully closed to exploitation.  Therefore, marine-conservation efforts cannot be restricted to the generation of closed zones but must focus equally on conservation through integrated resource management.

The influence of consumer-led pressure in driving management efforts is growing in prevalence within the fishing industry, with increasing opt-in to schemes that promote sustainability, such as Marine Stewardship Council certification. Independent scientific research into such schemes suggests that the best examples of working systems are those where science-based decisions underpin resource management. 

This timely meeting directly addressed the emotive topic of the exploitation of marine resources, focusing on fishing activity in Arctic regions, and the vital role that science must play in this debate. 

Download full agenda and talk abstracts: PDF icon Agenda and Abstracts - Arctic Fishing_13 December (382.19 KB)



Dr Rohan Currey is Fisheries Standard Director at the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).  He holds a PhD in marine mammal science with a research background in marine mammal science and Antarctic fisheries science. Previously, he represented the New Zealand Government in the Scientific Committees of the International Whaling Commission and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). In CCAMLR, he was the New Zealand Government's principal science advisor for the recently established Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area and the MSC certification of the Ross Sea toothfish fishery.

Rod Cappell is a director of Poseidon, a fisheries consultancy working with a range of government and seafood industry clients. He trained as a marine biologist before focusing on resource management and economics. Rod has been involved with Greenlandic fisheries for the last 5 years, including Marine Stewardship Council fishery assessments and an evaluation of the EC’s Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Greenland.


Dr Chris Yesson is a research fellow at Institute of Zoology. He arrived at a marine research career via the circuitous route of a Pure Maths degree then 5 years as a management consultant before retraining as a biologist. His PhD at Reading examined evolutionary responses to climate change in terrestrial plants. He has worked at IoZ since 2009, where he has focused on marine research, examining distributions and genetics of cold water corals. For the past 5 years he has studied the seabed of West Greenland and assessed the impact of trawling on the benthic fauna of the region. 

  • Chaired by Kirsty Kemp, Institute of Zoology, ZSL

Dr Kirsty Kemp is a benthic ecologist with a primary interest in sustainable management practices in the marine environment. She is currently an independent research fellow at the Institute of Zoology, ZSL, and has 14 years of experience conducting ship-based field research using benthic cameras, ROVs and submersibles in all oceans of the world. She has been actively studying the benthos of Greenland since 2011 and her current work focuses on the disturbance impacts of trawl fishing on the Arctic seafloor, using benthic photography and bycatch specimens to map and describe seafloor communities, and to understand the stresses they are subjected to now, historically, and into the future.

  • See images of the West Greenland benthic habitat, taken on the Survey vessel M/T Paamiut in Nuuk during a recent research expedition.  ZSL scientists use the ship at night to take seabed images with a drop camera.


  • Enquiries

  • Contact Jennifer Howes, Scientific Events Coordinator; 0207 449 6227
  • For press enquiries please contact the ZSL Press Office:
  • Sign up to receive email updates about forthcoming ZSL Science and Conservation Events

More Events