Aker BioMarine sustainability director Ragnhild Dragøy, left, and AWR board chair Claire Christian at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, where the company announced its continued support for Antarctic research. Photo: Aker BioMarine.

Krill harvester gives extra $1m to Antarctic research

Aker BioMarine, which harvests Antarctic krill for use in animal and human food, has pledged $1 million to support the Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund (AWR) over the next five years. The grant, which is on top of almost $1.5m already donated by the company since 2015, will further AWR’s work on promoting and facilitating research on the Antarctic ecosystem.

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“Aker BioMarine has taken a leading role in the development and utilisation of Antarctic krill resources,” said the company’s chief executive Matts Johansen.

“We have committed to having a positive impact on human health, without compromising the health of the planet. To succeed, we need to have the science and data available to make solid decisions on how to take best care of the ecosystem in which we work. AWR was created to ensure a resilient Antarctica, where the management of all natural resources depends on up-to-date knowledge. The funding will help secure the work on promoting and facilitating high-quality research.”

Data gaps

AWR was established in 2015 by Aker BioMarine, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) and WWF-Norway. The fund has financed 20 research projects and 15 host institutions, including three projects last year.

“Although we have learned a lot about Antarctic ecosystems in recent decades, many data gaps still exist, particularly as climate change impacts in the region accelerate,” said Claire Christian, the chair of AWR’s board.

“Projects funded by AWR will increase our ability to make precautionary management decisions based on the most up to date information and protect the long-term health of the ecosystem in the Southern Ocean.”

The Antarctic krill fishery is considered to be one of the most sustainable reduction fisheries in the world and has been awarded an A-rating for seven years in a row by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, an independent, non-profit organisation responsible assessment of stocks and fisheries in the Pacific and Atlantic.