BioMar and Aker BioMarine have backed plans for areas of the Antarctic where krill can't be fished. Photo: Aker BioMarine

BioMar signs up to krill fishing exclusion zones

Fish feed manufacturer BioMar has joined other representatives from the seafood industry and conservation groups in supporting the creation of marine protected areas, including large no-fishing zones, in the Antarctic.

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BioMar sources MSC certified Antarctic krill from its supplier, Aker BioMarine, which initiated the commitment. Krill is desirable not only for its fish health and nutrition properties but because it is a natural source of carotenoids which give salmon and shrimp their pink colour.

The announcement – made at a Greenpeace-led retailer roundtable event - will see nearly all krill companies operating in the Antarctic voluntarily stop fishing in huge areas around the Antarctic Peninsula, including ‘buffer zones’ around breeding colonies of penguins, to protect Antarctic wildlife.

Huge movement

Frida Bengtsson of Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign said the move was “unprecedented”.

“A huge movement of people globally has been joined by scientists, governments, celebrities and now even the companies fishing in the Antarctic. This is a bold and progressive move from these krill fishing companies, and we hope to see the remainder of the krill industry follow suit,” said Bengtsson.

The fishing companies are all members of the Association of Responsible Krill harvesting companies (ARK), and represent 85% of the krill fishing industry in the Antarctic.

Actor Javier Bardem, left, and submarine pilot John Hocevar explore Antarctica. Photo: Greenpeace

“Sourcing krill can be done at safe levels that considers the Antarctic ecosystem and marine species that rely on it as an essential nutrient in their diet,” said Vidar Gundersen, BioMar’s global sustainability director.

“This initiative further strengthens the sustainability and precautionary practising shown by our supplier Aker BioMarine. The overwhelming support for this commitment up and down the value chain shows just what can be achieved when we collaborate together under the shared vision of a sustainable aquaculture industry.”

The Greenpeace-led retailer roundtable event was held in conjunction with its Antarctic 360 event in Cambridge, UK, attended by scientists and Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem, who joined Greenpeace’s expedition to the Antarctic in January 2018.

The No Country For Old Men actor was speaking alongside a meeting of Antarctic scientists who are drawing up the technical plans for marine protected areas in the Antarctic Ocean, one of which is expected to cover around 1.8 million square kilometres in the Weddell Sea.

The final decision will be taken by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in October 2018, when it convenes in Hobart, Tasmania.