Together we kicked out Shell; seven million people across the world stopped Shell’s expansion into the Arctic in 2015. Later in the year nations came together in Paris and signed a historical agreement for the climate. These events are clear signs that the world is entering a new era where fossil fuels made extinct, making room for a sustainable future. We are now moving away from the depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation, and moving towards a sustainable use of natural resources and environmental protection.
Global warming opens the Arctic to destructive fishing fleets
The Arctic is warming at a rate of almost twice the global average and is one of the main drivers behind dramatic melting in the Arctic. In fact, this January a new record low level for Arctic sea ice extent during this normally ice-packed month was set. This is an alarming development.
Sea ice loss in the northern Barents Sea around Svalbard is turning these waters into new hunting grounds for industrial fishing fleets. With them comes the threats of habitat degradation and bycatch, potentially wiping out marine life that has inhabited these waters for centuries and putting this whole fragile ecosystem at risk. According to the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, bottom trawling has damaged 30-50 % of Norway’s coral reefs.
Arctic destruction on your plate?
Today, at The North Atlantic Seafood Forum, in Bergen, Norway Greenpeace investigations revealed satellite data and field work showing an increasing number of trawlers operating in the Northern Barents Sea, an ‘ecologically significant’ area, according to scientists. These are biological hotspots that, until recently, have been covered by sea ice for most of the year. It is the home of seabirds, ice dependent marine mammals and vulnerable seabed communities. They are now at risk.
Three fishing companies stand out from in our investigations: Norwegian-owned Havfisk ASA, Russian-owned (but Hong Kong-based) Ocean Trawlers, and the Fishing Industry Union of the North (FIUN), a leading Russian fishing association. These companies feed a network of retailers, food brands and restaurants in Europe, US, Canada and Asia.
Examples of fish processors and brands sourcing cod from the Barents Sea include: Espersen (Europe and USA), High Liner Foods, (Canada and the USA) and Findus (Europe), Youngs Seafood (UK), Iglo (Europe), Birds Eye (Europe and China). In addition, the food service industry and most major supermarket chains in Europe also source fish from the Barents Sea. Many of these brands proudly display their commitment to sustainability on their packaging.
The northward expansion of trawlers means any processors, retailers, restaurants or food brands buying cod from the Barents Sea are at risk of having their supply chains tainted with Arctic destruction, unless something is done urgently.
Let’s ensure,we become part of the generation that helps #savethearctic before we have even glimpsed its wonders and this incredible place is lost forever.
Help us continue the fight to protect the Arctic, sign our declaration and join the rest of the over seven million Arctic defenders!
Mads Flarup Christensen, is the interim international executive director at Greenpeace International
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