South Korea has agreed to strike a deal with other countries to refrain from fishing in the rapidly warming Arctic Ocean until they have a better understanding of the marine life in the area, Seoul's foreign ministry said Friday.
Five countries with Arctic shorelines -- the US, Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway -- and five other parties -- South Korea, China, Japan, Ireland and the EU -- have reached a draft agreement to prevent unregulated fishing in the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The consensus was made at the sixth round of meetings between the 10 parties held in Washington from Tuesday to Thursday, nearly two years after they began the talks in December 2015 amid rapid melting of sea ice due to climate change, the ministry said.
Under the accord which will be valid for 16 years since taking effect, the countries will launch a joint research program to study what kind of fish are in the region -- roughly equivalent to the size of the Mediterranean Sea -- and whether they can be harvested sustainably, according to the ministry.
The relevant parties will go through a legal and technical review of its provisions before signing the agreement, which is likely to take place next year, the ministry said.