A group of more than a dozen companies with interests in the fishing industry – including retailers, food manufacturers and fishing associations – have committed to not sourcing cod or haddock from parts of the Barents and Norwegian Seas, amid concerns that melting Arctic ice caps could allow companies to turn vulnerable marine habitats into new fishing grounds.
Effective immediately, the agreement will discourage fishermen from expanding their cod fishing activities with trawl gear into areas around the Svalbard archipelago, north of mainland Norway, where fishing has not previously taken place. The agreement also says that fishermen will accelerate their current plans to ensure Marine Stewardship Council accreditation by strengthening their work to identify and avoid vulnerable marine ecosystems, including coral and sea pens.
The companies signed up to the commitment have claimed that the measures will allow time for new research to establish whether increased levels of fishing in the region would harm the marine environment, and to encourage stakeholders to develop a long-term plan for sustainable cod fishing in the Barents Sea.
Among them are retailers such as Tesco, food manufacturers like Young’s and Nomad Foods, the fast food chain McDonalds and Fiskebåt, which represents the vessel owners in Norway’s €1 billion ocean-faring fishing industry.
“The cod and haddock fisheries in the Barents and Norwegian Sea are considered to be some of the best regulated fisheries in the world and are independently certified by the Marine Stewardship Council,” the companies said in a joint statement. “In order to safeguard the sustainability of these fisheries, fishermen have now agreed the need to take a precautionary approach to fishing in areas that have not been fished before and to take further steps to protect vulnerable marine life in the areas where they currently operate.”
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