More than a year ago, five Arctic nations signed a declaration pledging to keep their fishing fleets out of the international waters in the Arctic Ocean, an area increasingly ripe for exploitation as summer sea ice diminishes — and perhaps increasingly vulnerable with so little known about its ecology.

Now a group of diplomats is still trying to hammer out a binding agreement to protect waters of the central Arctic Ocean. The effort has expanded to nine nations and the European Union.

A meeting last week in the Faroe Islands, about halfway between Iceland and Norway, failed to produce the deal that some had expected to be in place by now, well before any commercial fishing vessels head north into international Arctic waters. Another session will be held early next year, probably in Iceland.

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