Deckboss heard Russia recently made a new request to harvest pollock on the Alaska side of the maritime boundary line dividing the Bering Sea.
Paul Niemeier, foreign relations specialist with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Silver Spring, Md., provided this response to my inquiry:
Russian representatives did not specifically ask for access to the U.S. EEZ to fish for pollock at the meeting of the U.S.-Russia Intergovernmental Consultative Committee (ICC) on Fisheries held in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, on September 10-11, 2010. They really didn't have to; they have been asking for such access since 1991 and their position is well understood by the United States. The Russians have made the ratification of the Maritime Boundary Agreement in the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean conditional on getting access to pollock resources in the U.S. zone. Reciprocal fishing has been on the agenda of U.S.-Russia ICC meetings for nearly 20 years and the two sides have been at an impasse on this issue for almost as long.
We have had ongoing Government-to-Government negotiations with Russia on the conservation and management of living marine resources in the northern Bering Sea since 2002, but there has been little or no progress in recent years. Nevertheless, we are continuing to explore new ways to engage the Russians in order to move the talks forward. We proposed a new cooperative northern Bering Sea pollock research program at the last meeting. There is some intermixing of Russian and U.S.-origin pollock in the maritime boundary and a coordinated fisheries management arrangement to avoid taking of juvenile fish would assist in the overall sustainable management of the fisheries for both nations. Before considering such an arrangement, the United States believes that a cooperative research program and data exchange is needed to answer key scientific questions about the resource and fisheries. The Russians agreed to discuss the proposal at an inter-sessional meeting in Seattle sometime later this year or in early 2011.