Regional Governance in the High North: An assessment of Arctic governance and its fisheries

Momme Nommensen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The Arctic has become an important topic on the global political agenda. Global warming induced implications create on the one hand commercial opportunities, but on the other hand pose new challenges towards governance and the management of Arctic resources. The growing interest in the economic utilisation of Arctic resources has questioned the applicability of current governance arrangements due to rising commercial stakes and insufficient institutional regulations. This thesis seeks to assess whether regional governance is a suitable mode of governance for the High North and to evaluate what regulatory responses are required to sustainably develop Arctic fisheries. The research encompasses a theoretical foundation of regionalism and international law in order to build criteria for the assessment of Arctic governance. The analysis found that the current governance mode has significant shortcomings, but highlights that recent developments are trying to fill those gaps. The lack of a clear legal mandate in the Arctic is substituted by institutional responses from the Arctic Council. The incorporation of indigenous voices in the policy process further distinguishes the governance mode from other arrangements. These findings indicate that regional governance is a suitable mode of governance for the Arctic region. Through an analysis of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission the thesis found that the management of fisheries is a very technical matter and that discordancy is still a major factor in the negotiation of fishing quotas. Regulatory responses need to establish effective conservation measurements that incorporate the marine ecosystem as a whole and that it is furthermore important to acknowledge the dependency on fishing resources of some states in order to avoid political tension in the negotiation of fishing quotas. The study found that the political and economic landscape of the Arctic is very diverse and that the Arctic states hold high economic stakes in the extraction of natural resources. Observations suggest a general willingness to cooperate by the Arctic states with an increased effort to incorporate non-Arctic voices into the discourse. Nevertheless, policy creation in the Arctic is still a lively debate and political tensions are by no means inevitable.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2014
Number of pages83