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Pioneering Cod Sustainability Agreement Reached

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Pioneering Cod Sustainability Agreement Reached

Pioneering Cod Sustainability Agreement Reached
May 30
09:40 2016

An industry group of global fishing stakeholders, including the catching sector, processors , retailers and foodservice, have come together to help further protect the marine environment in the Barents and Norwegian Seas, as part of their continued commitment to source fish responsibly. The industry group, includes Asda, Icelandic Seachill, Marks and Spencer, McDonald’s, Morrisons, Nomad Foods Europe, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Young’s Seafood and Fisekbat (which represents the Norwegian oceangoing fishing fleet).

The move follows Greenpeace’s report ‘This Far, No further’, which 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 (MSC). In order to safeguard the sustainability of these fisheries, fishermen have now agreed the need to take 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 they currently operate.

The agreement, which is in force immediately, will mean that 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 also commits that fishermen will accelerate their current plans to ensure that the fishery is condition-free under the MSC certification – the highest possible standard of fisheries sustainability – by strengthening their work to identify and avoid Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems, including coral and sea pens.

The agreement makes possible the formation of a Roundtable where Government agencies, scientists, NGOs and industry will work together to develop a plan for how the long-term sustainability of cod fishing in the Barents Sea can be maintained.

Once formed, the Roundtable will work with the Norwegian Government which is undertaking a comprehensive ocean floor mapping programme (MAREANO) that is providing unprecedented information about marine habitats. The Norwegian Industry has, on a voluntary basis agreed to accelerate its protective measures, committed to adding to the 74,000 Km² Marine Protected Area (MPA) around the Svalbard archipelago and 19 no-trawl zones in the Barents and Norwegian Seas, in areas where scientific research and advice shows that further protection is needed.

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