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We kicked out Shell, but there’s a new threat to the Arctic

Posted by Mads Flarup Christensen - 2nd March 2016

Together we kicked out Shell, 7 million people across the world stopped Shell’s expansion into the Arctic last year. 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 into a new era, where fossil fuels are placed in a museum, making room for a sustainable future. we move away from the depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation, and move 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 sea ice loss 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,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. These bring with them 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, 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 for most parts until recently have been covered by sea ice for most of the year, the home of seabirds, ice dependent marine mammals and vulnerable seabed communities are now at risk.

Three catching companies stand out from the investigations we have done:  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 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 northwards 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 ending up on consumers dinner plates, unless something is done urgently.

Let’s ensure, we become part of the generation that helps #savethearctic, not destroy it 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 7.6 million Arctic defenders!

Article Tagged as: Climate, arctic

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