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article imageMcDonald's, Tesco sign 'historic' agreement to limit cod fishing

By Karen Graham     May 26, 2016 in Environment
McDonald's and Tesco have joined other companies in signing an historic agreement to limit cod fishing in the unprotected and as yet unexploited Arctic regions opened up by the melting ice.
The signing of the unprecedented and voluntary agreement was announced on Wednesday by Greenpeace International, who brokered the deal, according to Phys.org.
"This is a historic agreement that brings together the main players in cod fishing" in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea, said Frida Bengtsson, a marine environment specialist at Greenpeace. "In the absence of significant legal protection of the icy waters of the northern Barents Sea, this is an unprecedented step by the seafood industry."
This is the first time ever that the seafood industry has voluntarily imposed limitations on industrial fishing in the Arctic. Global seafood buyers as well as McDonald's and British retail chains Tesco, Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer, are among the companies signing the deal to not increase cod fishing into a formerly frozen northern portion of the Barents Sea, reports CTV News.
Two major fishing companies that work the region, Russia's Karat and Norway's Fiskeb├ąt, have also signed the agreement, along with the U.K.'s Young's Seafood and Denmark's Espersen. The pact takes effect immediately and puts a halt to the practice of bottom-trawling, a process of dragging nets along the floor of the ocean, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.
"Fiskebat agrees not to send its trawlers to fish for cod in the Arctic areas in the Barents Sea, where no regular fishing has been practiced in the past," said Jan Ivar Marak, an executive at the Norwegian company.
Part of the agreement stipulates that companies are required to do mapping of the seabeds to determine the fragility of an area before it is approved for fishing. Tech Times reports that companies signing the agreement are also banned from buying any fish caught even farther north. Fishing companies that do expand into the Arctic's pristine waters will not be able to sell their cod catches to major seafood brands or retailers.
"Our customers tell us it's important they can be sure the fish on our shelves is caught in a way that doesn't harm the ocean environment, and this landmark agreement means vulnerable marine life in the Barents and Norwegian seas will be protected," said Giles Bolton, a sourcing director for Tesco, reports Phys.org.
According to Greenpeace, 189 trawlers are licensed to fish in the icy waters of Svalbard, where 800,000 tons of cod are taken annually. "Cod is doing well, the stocks are good, but global warming is a real cause for concern," because it pushes trawlers further north, said Bengtsson.
More about arctic cod fishing, historic agreement, brokered by greenpeace, barents sea, legal protection
 
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