International Agreement Bans Commercial Fishing in the Arctic

The agreement was signed in Greenland by Canada, China, Denmark, Iceland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, the United States, and the European Union.

The goal of the 16-year fishing ban is to protect a vulnerable ocean ecosystem where ice is melting due to rising temperatures. Once covered by ice, this region would present new fishing opportunities without the ban.

This is a huge step in the right direction for fish and other marine animals. With pollution, climate change, and overfishing, we’re killing our oceans at an alarming rate. In fact, scientists have warned that our oceans could be empty of fish by 2048. That’s just 30 years from now, when many of us will still be around.

Not only do we kill billions of fish for food every year; we kill countless other animals in the process. Because we’re emptying the oceans of fish, populations of animals who depend on these fish for survival are also in decline.

For instance, Atlantic puffins on the Shetland Islands depend on sand eels to survive. Once sand eels were overfished, puffin numbers dramatically fell. Similarly, when herring is overfished, cod populations drop.

And that’s just the start.

In addition to killing billions of fish, the seafood industry kills millions of other animals unintentionally—victims of the industry’s deadly gear. According to Whale and Dolphin Conservation, more than 300,000 whales, dolphins, and porpoises die every year after being caught in fishing gear and nets.

Similarly, each year an estimated 50 million sharks are caught unintentionally, about half as many sharks as the estimated 100 million killed by the commercial fishing industry per year for meat and fins. Great white sharks, a particularly vulnerable species, are often killed in long lines and gill nets off the coast of California.

Earlier this year, a Mercy For Animals undercover video from off the coast of California revealed sharks and stingrays cut apart while still alive; dolphins, sea lions, and seabirds trapped and killed in driftnets; fish slowly suffocating in nets; and sharks still alive and gasping as their tails and fins were hacked off.


MFA partnered with advocacy organizations Turtle Island Restoration Network, SeaLegacy, and Sharkwater to pressure state lawmakers to pass a bill to phase out cruel driftnets. Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate bill 1017 into law after it passed nearly unanimously in the California senate and assembly. The new law will phase out driftnets over a four-year period.

Sadly, fish are among the most abused animals on the planet, and while many people say fish don’t feel pain, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, fish are similar to dogs, cats, and other animals in their experience of pain and pleasure.

Thankfully, we can withdraw our support of the cruel fishing industry by leaving aquatic animals off our plates and switching to a compassionate vegan diet. Order your FREE Vegetarian Starter Guide today. And check out these cruelty-free, sea-inspired recipes.