AWR has spent $1 million supporting research to make sure krill exploitation is sustainable. Photo: AWR.

Antarctic krill research fund grants top $1 million

The Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund (AWR) co-founded by krill harvester Aker BioMarine has now devoted more than $1 million to Antarctic science projects since 2015.

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AWR, which counts feed producer BioMar among its sponsors, revealed it had reached the milestone as it launched its seventh call for proposals for research it can support. Three projects from Norway, the US and the UK have been supported this year.

The Antarctic ecosystem is dependent on Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), a small, shrimp-like crustacean that is eaten by species from fish to blue whales.

Penguins are among the creatures that depend on krill's support for the ecosystem. Photo: AWR.

Krill-based ecosystem

AWR believes now is a critical time to obtain high-quality scientific information that can help resolve current scientific uncertainties about krill, krill predators, and the ecosystem to assist in the long-term management of the fishery. The partners in AWR support the need for the krill industry to contribute to this process.

AWR’s founding partners are Aker BioMarine, the Antarctic and Southern Coalition (ASOC), and World Wildlife Fund-Norway.

“In an era of climate change and threats to biodiversity, it is more critical than ever that we obtain the information needed to secure the long-term health of marine ecosystems,” said Claire Christian, chair of AWR’s board and acting executive director at ASOC.

“The projects funded by AWR will increase our ability to protect the krill-based ecosystem in the Southern Ocean.”

Earlier this year Aker BioMarine and the Nofima research institute in Norway released a study showing that supplementing salmon feed with krill meal improved the welfare and fillet quality of the fish.