A number of the world's food industry giants and fishing companies - including McDonald’s, Iglo, Birds Eye, Icelandic Seachill, Fiskebåt, the Karat Group, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, Espersen, Asda and others - have voluntarily agreed not to expand trawling for cod into previously ice-covered areas of the Barents Sea in the vicinity of the Norwegian Archipelago of Svalbard.
Industry members who signed on to the agreement, which was brokered by environmental conservation group Greenpeace, recognise that climate change and sea ice retreat in the region have “caused concern related to fishing activities” in the waters surrounding Svalbard.
Those wishing to expand fishing operations into the region around Svalbard outlined in the agreement will not be able to sell their catches to the food industry giants who have signed on to the agreement.
The agreement also requires that the seabed in an area of interest to be mapped to determine how fragile an area’s ecosystems are before it is opened to fishing.
This is the first time the seafood industry has voluntarily imposed restrictions on industrial fishing activities in the Arctic, especially since there are no formal legal restrictions limiting fishing in this maritime region.