Times Staff and Wire Reports

In an attempt to head off a major commercial fishing march into the Arctic, the Obama administration declared a moratorium on expanded fishing in the still-uncharted waters of the far north.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary F. Locke banned the expansion of most commercial fishing beyond the Alaskan coast until new scientific studies can determine what fish stocks exist and how crucial they are to maintaining a fragile Arctic ecosystem already under stress.

The order, recommended by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in February, restricts future commercial fishing for finfish and shellfish in nearly 200,000 square miles of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

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