Tesco, UK’s largest supermarket chain, along with other food brands like Birds Eye and U.S. fast-food brand McDonald’s, are backing the initiative to protect marine life by limiting cod fishing activities in the northeast Atlantic Ocean.
According to an agreement, all signatories will be restricting their cod fishing activities. “Fishermen will not expand their cod fishing activities with trawl gear into those areas where fishing has not taken place before,” the document said.
As reported The Times, the melting Arctic ice has allowed trawlers supplying cod to fish closer to the North Pole in areas and habitats that are vulnerable. The agreement comes in the wake of an investigation and publishing of a report entitled “This Far, No Further” by Greenpeace.
The report reveals that as many as 100 Russian and Norwegian fishermen had used trawl gear in the last three years to fish in the areas of the northern Barents Sea. “Fishing brings with it the threats of habitat degradation and bycatch, potentially wiping out marine life and putting this whole fragile ecosystem at risk,” the report said.
While the agreement is only being treated as a precautionary measure at present (there is no legislature that disallows fishing practices to occur in vulnerable areas in the Arctic), the signatories of the agreement will be working with the Norwegian government to recognize the areas that need to be protected.
“I think the agreement is a positive step. It is great to see company policy changing as the environmental conditions change,” Samuel Stone, fishery and agriculture program coordinator at the Marine Conservation Society U.K., said, as reported by Newsweek.
“The primary concern is the habitat. It is important to protect the remaining pristine environments, which is subject to fishing pressure. A lot of companies still just focus on getting the fish. For them, fishing in previously untouched areas offers a commercial advantage to their competitors.”
The initiative has been backed by the UK’s leading supermarket chain, Tesco. In a statement, Giles Bolton, Tesco’s responsible sourcing director, said, “Our customers tell us it’s important they can be sure the fish on our shelves are 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. We will keep working with our suppliers, relevant authorities and NGOs to help safeguard this unique marine habitat for future generations.”