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What McDonald's Is Doing to Protect the Future of the Filet-O-Fish

The current agreement puts the brakes on expanding cod fishing, but also the use of heavy nets to scrape marine life from the seabed, known as “bottom trawling”, in the Arctic—an area where some 800,000 tons of cod are already being fished on a yearly...

by Nick Rose
31 May 2016, 8:00am

Photo via Flickr user Elsie Hui

An area twice the size of France is melting away in the Arctic. While that's bad news for us humans, it's actually good news for cod, who now have plenty more space to swim and be merry in some of the most pristine and untouched waters on earth.

So, does this mean more white fish for your Filet-O-Fish? Not quite.

In an agreement being called "historic" by Greenpeace, McDonald's has agreed to not buy cod from parts of the Arctic which were once covered in ice but are now melting. The agreement to not purchase fish from this area was also signed by global seafood suppliers and British retail giants like Tesco, Sainsbury's, and Marks and Spencer, AFP reports.

READ MORE: Arctic Circle Gonads Got Me High

"This is huge," Greenpeace said on its website. "Never before has an industry stood up for Arctic protection." The environmental organization went on to laud the food industry giants for taking such a progressive stance.

"We are witnessing a truly important moment when global brands in the fishing industry start to say 'no' to Arctic destruction and agree to prevent fishing fleets from expanding their search for cod into sensitive and previously ice-covered areas in a region twice the size of France."

Speaking to AFP, Giles Bolton, a sourcing director for Tesco, told AFP that the decision made good business sense for the company, "Our customers tell us it's important they can be sure the fish on our shelves is caught in a way that doesn't harm the ocean environment, and this landmark agreement means vulnerable marine life in the Barents and Norwegian seas will be protected."

The current agreement puts the brakes on expanding cod fishing, but also the use of heavy nets to scrape marine life from the seabed, known as "bottom trawling," in the Arctic—an area where some 800,000 tons of cod are already being fished on a yearly basis.

"This is a historic agreement that brings together the main players in the cod fishing, in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea," said Frida Bengtsson, a marine environment specialist at Greenpeace. "In the absence of significant legal protection of the icy waters of the northern Barents Sea, this is an unprecedented step from the seafood industry."