The second-largest ocean on Earth, the Atlantic covers approximately 20 percent of Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area.
The Atlantic Ocean is divided into the North and South Atlantic Ocean and is located between America on the west and Europe and Africa on the east.
It drives weather patterns, facilitates trade between Europe and America, provides a bounty of natural resources, and is home to a variety of marine species - from sea turtles to dolphins.
marine life in Atlantic
Atlantic salmon are rarely found in other places. Spinner dolphin has a significant distribution across the Atlantic
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the Atlantic ocean is the lifeline of millions of people from all around the world.
Who owns the rights to our natural resources?
One of the most precious resources that our oceans offer us is fisheries. Like oil and gas, fishing has become an industry that knows no borders. And as the global population increasingly demands more food, and fishing becomes a lucrative industry, transnational fishing companies have grown rich and powerful, building ever bigger boats, hunting night and day, seeking out stocks in every corner of the globe.
To reduce marine pollution, the Canadian Fishery Department collects fishing gear from the Atlantic Ocean
And herein lies the real issues surrounding the Atlantic. With industrial efficiency, these super trawlers have joined the oil explorers in the scramble for the Atlantic’s resources. For the smaller-scale fishermen who have lived modestly off the sea for generations, their livelihoods are rapidly vanishing before their eyes.
At three different corners of the Atlantic, fishing communities in Ireland, Norway, and Canada share social, economic, and environmental problems stemming from human interactions with the ocean’s ecosystems. But while the Canadian and Norwegian governments prioritize the safeguarding of their oil, gas, and fish, Ireland’s decision to sell its ocean resources to foreign interests is detrimental to its working class.
Brexit trade deal and fishing quotas
In more recent incidents, the United Kingdom (UK) withdrew its membership from the European Union (EU) after many months of dialog.
In fact, fishing was one of the key sticking points in negotiations between the UK and the EU over their new trade agreement.
The deal, which came into force on 1 January 2021, still allows EU boats to fish in UK waters for some years to come but gives UK boats a greater share of the catch (or quota).
The EU and UK have agreed on a transition period until June 2026
While fishing is a tiny part of the economy on both sides of the Channel, it carries major political weight. And this makes the fishing industry even more important to the global economy and shows just how far countries go to protect the resources within their waters.
'Atlantic' Film Screening
As part of the Nature in the City campaign with KerryOn at the Jingan Kerry Center, Green Initiatives is organizing a screening of ‘Atlantic’, a film that charts the highlights and the challenges of resource management in the Atlantic ocean.
While every country is blessed with different natural resources, each of them also faces unique challenges. This event will focus on the democratic approach that forward-thinking countries are taking to address various issues and challenges and create a platform for everyone to voice their opinions.
The fact is, that, we all share our planet’s resources; and also that, it is our common responsibility to protect the same. Different governments choose to design their policies keeping in mind the welfare of their citizens and no approach may be a rigid right or wrong towards the equitable distribution of natural resources. They are only opportunities to empower local communities and individuals so that they can better contribute to this vital debate.
The film screening will be followed by a short discussion with Dhritiraj Sengupta, a Post-Doctoral research fellow at the State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai. He will present his research on fisheries and the ocean.