Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Ground-Breaking Agreement Marks First Voluntarily Limits to Industrial Fishing in Arctic

Food

Some of the world's largest seafood and fishing companies committed Wednesday not to expand their search for cod into a large, previously ice-covered area of the northern Barents Sea. The area is twice the size of France. The group includes McDonald’s, Tesco, Iglo, Young’s Seafood, Icelandic Seachill, Russian Karat Group, Fiskebåt—representing the entire Norwegian oceangoing fishing fleet and Europe’s largest processor of frozen fish, Espersen.

Atlantic Cod. Photo credit: Joachim S. Mueller/ Greenpeace

The ground-breaking agreement brokered by Greenpeace marks the first time the seafood industry has voluntarily imposed limitations to industrial fishing in the Arctic. This means that any fishing companies expanding into pristine Arctic waters will not be able to sell their cod to major seafood brands and retailers.

Currently there is no specific legal regime in place to protect Arctic areas that were previously covered by sea ice. The challenge is now on the industry to properly implement this new commitment and ensure their products are not linked to Arctic destruction.

“Today, McDonald’s, Espersen, Young’s Seafood and Iglo, Findus and Birds Eye and many more have taken action together with the fishing industry to safeguard a huge marine area in the Arctic," Greenpeace campaigner Frida Bengtsson said. "In the absence of significant legal protection of the icy waters of the northern Barents Sea, this is an unprecedented step from the seafood industry."

In March, Greenpeace investigations revealed how the melting Arctic sea ice has made it possible for large, bottom trawlers to venture into previously ice-covered "ecologically significant" areas. The report exposed how global, well-known food brands and retailers buying cod from the Barents Sea risked having their supply chain tainted with Arctic destruction.

The region, which includes the Svalbard archipelago, also known as the "Arctic Galapagos," is home to vulnerable animals including the polar bear, bowhead whale and Greenland shark. At least 70 percent of all the Atlantic cod that ends up on dinner plates around the world is from the Barents Sea as such.

“This voluntary and unprecedented move by the seafood industry highlights the lack of political ambition so far to protect the Arctic. Now it’s up to the Norwegian government to catch up with the companies and protect the Arctic for the long term,” Bengtsson said.

Greenpeace is calling on the Norwegian government to protect this truly unique and vulnerable area in the Norwegian Arctic waters and acknowledge the growing resistance to reckless exploitation of the fragile Arctic environment, not only from millions of individual people but also from the corporate world. Norway is internationally obliged through the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to protect at least 10 percent of its marine areas by 2020, but is falling drastically short with less than 1 percent protected so far. As part of an ongoing political process, on May 23 the Norwegian parliament asked the Norwegian government to come up with a plan for marine protection.

The statement from the fishing industry comes weeks after Arctic sea ice hit a record low maximum extent for winter. With the extreme loss of sea ice, large areas of water are left open for longer periods and the need for legal protection to replace the protective ice-shield is urgent.

The challenge for these companies is now to deliver on their commitment to Arctic protection and show real results out on the water. The world’s eyes are on the Arctic. This summer, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise will go to the Arctic to keep watch over the areas now off limits to ensure that the fishing industry meets these commitments.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

David Suzuki: How to Feed the World as the Planet Warms

Burning All Fossil Fuels Would Lead to a 17 C Rise in Arctic Temperatures

How Carbon Farming Can Reverse Climate Change

Canada Approves GMO Salmon

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Moroccan patients who recovered from the novel coronavirus disease celebrate with medical staff as they leave the hospital in Sale, Morocco, on April 3, 2020. AFP / Getty Images

By Tom Duszynski

The coronavirus is certainly scary, but despite the constant reporting on total cases and a climbing death toll, the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number: those who have recovered.

In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.

Read More Show Less
Reef scene with crinoid and fish in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Reinhard Dirscherl / ullstein bild / Getty Images

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

The future for the world's oceans often looks grim. Fisheries are set to collapse by 2048, according to one study, and 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year, causing considerable damage to delicate marine ecosystems. Yet a new study in Nature offers an alternative, and more optimistic view on the ocean's future: it asserts that the entire marine environment could be substantially rebuilt by 2050, if humanity is able to step up to the challenge.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A daughter touches her father's head while saying goodbye as medics prepare to transport him to Stamford Hospital on April 02, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. He had multiple COVID-19 symptoms. John Moore / Getty Images

Across the country, the novel coronavirus is severely affecting black people at much higher rates than whites, according to data released by several states, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Four rolls of sourdough bread are arranged on a surface. Photo by Laura Chase de Formigny and food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post / Getty Images

By Zulfikar Abbany

Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A coral reef in Egypt's Red Sea. Tropical ocean ecosystems could see sudden biodiversity losses this decade if emissions are not reduced. Georgette Douwma / Stone / Getty Images

The biodiversity loss caused by the climate crisis will be sudden and swift, and could begin before 2030.

Read More Show Less