The Krill Fisherys Pre-emptive Approach to Sustainability

June 18, 2013

4 Min Read
The Krill Fisherys Pre-emptive Approach to Sustainability

by Becky Wright

As the exploitation of natural resources continues at a frenetic pace across the globe, sustainability has become more than just a trendit has become both a moral and economic imperative.

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey was recently quoted in an NPR article, stating big businesses" have an obligation to change the way consumers view them. One of the ways they can do this is by establishing and adhering to sustainability standardsand the keyword here is adhering," because whats the point of creating such a program if you arent going to stick to it? (You know who you are, greenwashers.)

The other way companies can increase consumer loyalty is by producing better, healthier products, including those with omega-3s. According to a late 2011 report from The Hudson Institute, Sound strategic planning with a commitment to growing sales of better-for-you (BFY) foods is just good business." In fact, the report said, those companies with a higher percentage of BFY sales showed 50 percent growth in operating profit and they outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 60 points on average.

From the farms to the oceans, many experts believe adopting sound environmental practices is the only way forward for large and small businessesand everyone in between. The challenge is figuring out how to balance these responsibilities with the needs of consumers globally. In the case of omega-3s, this is a very real concern, as the Global Organization for EPA & DHA Omega-3s (GOED) contends the market will need far more eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) than is currently being supplied in order to meet future health needs. More sources and better, sustainable harvesting techniques will help the market address this issue.

Krill Harvesting: A High Barrier Business

There are plenty of reasons for consumers and environmental authorities to be apprehensive any time a natural resource is being commercially exploited. The problem occurs when perception overtakes reality. And currently perception seems to be grabbing headlines more than reality where sustainability is concerned, particularly in the case of krill oil.

The krill fisherys approach to sustainability has always been pre-emptive, especially for some of the major playerssome of which have spent hundreds of millions of dollars during the last decade building the appropriate infrastructure for the harvest of krill in collaboration with regulatory authorities, researchers and NGOs (non-governmental organizations). Providing regulatory oversight of the krill fishery is the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a treaty-based organization responsible for preserving the resources of the Antarctic. It is made up of 25 full member nations and the process of obtaining a license for krill fishing in this corner of the world is stringent and restricted. CCAMLR is not only concerned with fisheries regulation, but it also strives to implement a holistic approach to the management of marine living resources in the Southern Ocean.

At an estimated 300 million to 500 million tons, krill is the largest biomass on earth. In Antarcticas Area 48where Aker and others are licensed to operatethe entire krill fishery harvests one-third of 1 percent of the krill biomass, or roughly 200,000 metric tons, on average annually. In addition, several precautionary quotas are in place to make sure the krill population remains healthy. This includes the 9 percent sustainable catch quota, which amounts to 5.6 million metric tons, as well as the 1 percent cautionary trigger level, which amounts to around 620,000 metric tons.

When it comes to krill fishing, there has been a lot of trial and error as well as ingenious technological developments, such as Aker BioMarines unique Eco-Harvesting system. This discovery in particular has greatly improved the companys harvesting process in the way it gently handles krill and eliminates by-catch. These measures are crucial not only because krill is such an important part of the ecosystem in Antarctica, but also because these techniques greatly minimize environmental impact.

The biggest challenge this fishery faces is the perception that krill harvesting is not sustainable, when in fact, the opposite is true. The Antarctic krill fishery is one of the most sustainably managed in the world. Rather than criticizing it, this fishery should be applauded for its proactive sustainability efforts.

Click the following colored text link to access a free Report written by GOED on the global omega-3 market and sustainability.

Becky Wright is the communications and marketing manager at Aker Biomarine.

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