Victory! Sweden (mostly) free from Baltic cod

Feature story - 7 March, 2007
Last year, Greenpeace activists and Ocean Defenders took to the supermarkets across Scandinavia to convince them to get out of Baltic cod, a stock that is severely overfished and at least a third of which is illegally caught. Finally the last domino has fallen: Swedish supermarkets are now free from frozen Baltic cod.

Activists mark Baltic cod products at an ICA store with "STOLEN FISH" stickers.

Only some fresh cod remains, and at least one of the  major supermarkets are in discussions to get rid of that too.  Our Oceans campaigner Frode Pleym says, "Even though this is only applicable in Sweden, it's a great step forward for sustainable fishing policies across Nordic countries."

ICA: Not worth selling cod

ICA was the last major supermarket in Sweden to keep selling potentially "stolen" Baltic cod, even after we confronted them last year, and released a report from our ship the Arctic Sunrise, outlining the illegal and unsustainable practices of the Baltic Sea cod fisheries.  But this week they finally relented, according to Sweden's major newspaper Dagens Nyheter

Frode spoke to the Purchasing Department of ICA Sweden yesterday, and reports that their decision is largely due to the work we did last year - and of course, Ocean Defenders everywhere.  "ICA said that they made a cost-benefit analysis of continuing to sell Baltic cod," says Frode.  "They decided that it was just not worth continuing when the public clearly had such a great concern."  

Making piracy history

Over the last year, the Defending Our Oceans expedition has battled pirate fishing in West Africa, the Pacific, the Netherlands Russia and the Baltic and Barents Seas.  Meanwhile, Greenpeace UK has made significant steps towards sustainable procurement policies in UK supermarkets, and we are in discussions with major food brands such as Birds Eye and Iglo to stick with guidelines to make sure their cod is also legal.

Today we launched the first public global database of blacklisted, illegal fishingvessels, in a bid to tackle the huge problem of illegal, unregulatedand unreported (IUU) pirate fishing, a $9 billion rogue industry which ishaving a devastating effect on fish stocks and biodiversity in some ofthe most ecologically important areas of the world's oceans.

But is this enough? Last year the news that commercial fishing as we know it might be over by 2048 unless things change sent shockwaves through the industry.   In the end, the only thing that will save the cod -- from both illegal fishing and legal overfishing -- and various other species that end up regularly on our dinner plates, is a network of properly enforced marine reserves.    

But this victory in Sweden might be one step towards that goal, because if your dinner menu starts changing, the industry will have to follow.

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