McDonald’s has recently strengthened its commitment to sustainable fishing by pledging to not source fish caught from previously ice covered sections of the Northern Barents Sea, a region twice the size of France.
This announcement came as increasing global temperatures have been opening up parts of the ocean that were previously inaccessible for commercial fishing practices like trawling and deep-sea nets. Industrial fishing practices can cause widespread damage to fragile ocean ecosystems and are able to cause native fish populations to plummet.
This pledge was brokered by Greenpeace and involved several other multinational corporations. McDonalds hopes to set a precedent of behavior for global brands in this untapped area of the Arctic Ocean.
As agreed in their pledge, McDonalds will not actively send fishing vessels into this banned sea region, nor will they knowingly serve cod caught there by third party fishermen.
Though a step in the right direction, McDonalds’ commitment may not be enough to save the Northern Barents Sea from exploitation. Norway has recently licensed 189 cod fishing trawlers to harvest millions of pounds of fish from this fragile region, and rates are expected to go up each year. The thousands of tons of fish that McDonalds won’t pull from this region will make up only a small fraction of the total amount being harvested.
Nonetheless, the McDonalds brand has a lot of global leverage, and their commitment to putting the environment ahead of their bottom line will surely strike a chord deep within the food industry.