Every once in a while, it’s nice to read about positive developments for our oceans and the fishing industry. Large international fishing fleets and customers have come together with the environmental organisation Greenpeace to sign agreements on cod fishing in the Arctic. The signatories include major brands such as Tesco, Iglo and McDonalds. It’s a sign of the political will to protect the Arctic – a step in the right direction.
The search for cod will not be extended into the Arctic (Barents Sea). All signatories have stated that they will no longer buy fish from boats that catch fish in the vulnerable Arctic areas that were previously covered with ice.
On 1 June this year, there was 11.1 million square kilometres of ice in the Arctic Circle. For the past thirty years, there was an average of 12.7 million. Peter Wadhams (see photo), one of the world’s biggest experts on sea ice and the poles, told The Independent that he expected that the ice would have almost completely disappeared this year or next year. In any event, less than one million square kilometres would remain.
Because the ice in the Arctic is slowly disappearing, large fishing boats are able to penetrate further and further north. They are entering ecologically important areas that were previously undisturbed. Vulnerable species of animals such as the polar bear, the bowhead whale and the Greenland shark are being threatened. The agreements are very good news for these species.
The agreements will be monitored by the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. This summer, the ship will sail to the area around Spitsbergen. Greenpeace also emphasises that the Norwegian government will be doing its bit to improve protection of the area and of local residents.