McDonald’s, global seafood providers in landmark move for Arctic protection
Amsterdam,25 May 2016 — Global brands, including McDonald’s, Tesco, Iglo, Young’sSeafood, Icelandic Seachill, alongside the Norwegian Fishing Vessel OwnersAssociation, Fiskebåt, Russian fishing giant, Karat and Europe’s largestprocessor of frozen fish, Espersen, have today said “no” to the furtherexpansion of cod fishing into the previously-frozen Northern Barents Sea — anarea twice the size of France.
Theground-breaking agreement brokered by Greenpeace marks the first time theseafood industry has voluntarily imposed limitations to industrial fishing inthe Arctic. This means that any fishing companies expanding into pristineArctic waters will not be able to sell their cod to major seafood brands andretailers.
Currentlythere is no specific legal regime in place to protect Arctic areas that werepreviously covered by sea ice. The challenge is now on the industry to properlyimplement this new commitment, and ensure their products are not linked toArctic destruction.
Commentingon the statement, Greenpeace campaigner Frida Bengtsson said:
“Today,McDonald’s, Espersen, Young’s Seafood, and Iglo, Findus & Birds Eye andmany more have taken action together with the Norwegian fishing industry tosafeguard a huge marine area in the Arctic. In the absence of significant legalprotection of the icy waters of the northern Barents Sea, this is anunprecedented step from the seafood industry.
In March,Greenpeace investigations revealed how the melting Arctic sea ice has made itpossible for large, bottom trawlers to venture into previously ice-covered‘ecologically significant’ areas.  The report exposed how global, well-knownfood brands and retailers buying cod from the Barents Sea risked having theirsupply chain tainted with Arctic destruction
The region, whichincludes the Svalbard archipelago, also known as the ‘Arctic Galapagos’, ishome to vulnerable animals including the polar bear, bowhead whale andGreenland shark. At least 70% of all the Atlantic cod that ends up on dinnerplates around the world is from the Barents Sea as such.
“Thisvoluntary and unprecedented move by the seafood industry highlights the lack ofpolitical ambition so far to protect the Arctic. Now it’s up to the Norwegiangovernment to catch up with the companies and protect the Arctic for the longterm”, said Frida Bengtsson.
Greenpeaceis calling on the Norwegian government to protect this truly unique andvulnerable area in the Norwegian Arctic waters and acknowledge the growingresistance to reckless exploitation of the fragile Arctic environment, not onlyfrom millions of individual people but also from the corporate world.
Thestatement from the fishing industry comes weeks after Arctic sea ice hit arecord low maximum extent for winter. With the extreme loss of sea ice, largeareas of water are left open for longer periods and the need for legalprotection to replace the protective ice-shield is urgent.
Thechallenge for these companies is now to deliver on their commitment to Arcticprotection and show real results out on the water. The world’s eyes are on theArctic. This summer, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise will go to the Arcticto keep watch over the areas now off limits to ensure that the fishing industrymeets these commitments.