Danish cod factory to close: not enough cod

Feature story - 12 December, 2006
Fishing industry newshub IntraFish has reported that Espersen, the cod processor supplying McDonald’s Europe and huge brands such as Birds Eye and Iglo, will close its main Danish plant. The two main reasons? Reduced cod quotas and, very simply, not enough cod.

A Swedish cod trawler in a proposed marine reserve.

The Danish cod processing plant processes cod from the nearby Baltic Sea, where the Arctic Sunrise battled against illegal cod fishing earlier this year.

This week, the European Union recommended cuts in EU cod quotas by 25 percent.  This may sound promising, however, the situation is so bad that the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has advised that cod fishing should be stopped entirely in the North Sea. ICES is the scientific advisory body for the EU.

Pirates and profits

To make matters worse, as we pointed out, illegal cod fishing is a huge problem.  This means that cod quotas can be overrun, with up to one in three cod in your supermarket illegally caught.  Pirate fishing makes it much harder to predict and ensure recovery of fish stocks.

According to Espersen CEO Klaus Nielsen, the reduced quotas and decreasing amount of cod played a role in the company's decision.  He told IntraFish that while the closure was temporary, recovery of cod stocks in the Baltic Sea could be "years away".  We agree - and the only way recovery can ever happen is a crackdown on illegal fishing, and the closure of some areas to all fishing through the creation of a network of marine reserves.

Birds Eye and Iglo: ready to talk

Meanwhile, two of the biggest brands that Espersen supplies, Birds Eye and Iglo, have agreed to talk with us about the problem.  Thanks to the thousands of Ocean Defenders who wrote to Birds Eye and Iglo, expressing concern about pirate fishing in the Baltic Sea.  The good news is that the CEO of Permira (the new owners of Birds Eye and Iglo) has agreed to talk to us. We'll keep you posted.

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