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Ecologists fear Antarctic krill crisis

4 September 2010 No Comment

Fishing industry threatens to destabilize stocks.



Quirin Schiermeier

The humble Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) bears a heavy burden. It may be just a small, shrimp-like crustacean, but its sheer abundance makes it one of the largest protein sources on Earth, eagerly sought by fish, penguins, whales — and man.

Ecologists are now warning that the rapid growth in krill fishing is adding to the pressure of environmental changes threatening the creatures, and are calling for better monitoring and precautionary management of krill fisheries.

The global fish-farming industry is increasingly relying on krill-based fish feed, and enzymes and chemicals derived from krill are included in a number of dietary and medical products. Last year, for example, Aker Biomarine, an Oslo-based company specializing in harvesting and processing Antarctic krill in the Southern Ocean, upgraded its krill harvesting vessel, the Saga Sea, to boost its catch. In the first half of 2010 it produced 8,600 tonnes of krill meal for the aquaculture market, up from 6,200 tonnes during the whole 2009 catch season. The total krill catch this season is expected to be 150,000–180,000 tonnes, exceeding last year’s total by about 40%.  Read more….

Source: Nature.com

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