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Sustainability of Antarctic krill

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The sustainability of krill fisheries has become a hot topic with many commentators willing to pronounce on whether krill fishing is or is not sustainable. This has real world implications. The Marine Stewardship Council claims that krill products carrying its ecolable “communicate sustainability to customers” while a major North American retailer has withdrawn krill products “until it evaluates the sustainability of its supply”. These actions affect the purchasing decisions of consumers and consequently both the demand for krill and the conduct of the fishery. The main krill products on sale are omega 3 diet supplements and the industry supplying this market has an interest in ensuring that its products are sustainable. In this talk, prepared for industry bodies, I explain the important concepts behind the notion of sustainability and the issues associated with krill management. While current krill catches are a small fraction of the available biomass, there are still issues to be resolved to manage the risks associated with further expansion of the fishery. I also discuss the ecosystem approach to fisheries which was championed in the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development, and which requires stakeholders to work together to find compromises between their various objectives. Cooperation between the industry, conservationists, scientists and resource managers is the best approach for ensuring sustainability.

This talk is part of the British Antarctic Survey series.

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