A group of food and fishing industry companies including Tesco, Marks & Spencer and McDonald’s have agreed not to expand cod fishing in the Barents and Norwegian seas as part of a commitment to source fish responsibly.
The agreement follows a Greenpeace report, This Far, No further, that highlighted concerns that the sea ice melt due to climate change has the potential to allow fishing boats to operate in previously unfished areas around the Svalbard Archipelago, running the risk of harming vulnerable marine habitats.
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 group making the agreement come from the catching, processing, retailing and food service sectors. It includes Asda, Espersen, fiskebat, Icelandic Seachill, Karat, Marks & Spencer, McDonald’s, Morrisons, Nomad Foods Europe, Sainsbury’s, The Saucy Fish Co, Tesco and Young’s Seafood Limited.
The group has agreed 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 fishermen operate currently.
Under the agreement, in force immediately, fishermen will not expand their cod fishing activities with trawl gear into those areas where fishing has not taken place before until robust and independent scientific research demonstrates that it will not cause serious harm to the marine environment.
The agreement allows for the formation of a roundtable where government agencies, scientists, NGOs and industry can develop a plan for the long-term sustainability of cod fishing in the Barents Sea.