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Aker BioMarine's Antarctic krill fishery recertified as sustainable

Saga Sea vessel. (Photo Credit: Aker BioMarine)

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Friday, January 09, 2015, 23:10 (GMT + 9)
A rigorous, third party assessment has shown that the Aker BioMarine’s Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) fishery continues to meet the demanding Marine Stewardship Council's (MSC) standards for environmentally sustainable fishing. As a result, Aker BioMarine’s krill products, including krill oil, may continue carrying the MSC ecolabel, identifying their origin from a sustainable source.

In order to determine the sustainability of the fishery, a team of independent scientists and auditors considered all available science and reviewed the fishery’s management practices against the MSC Fisheries Standard. Their analysis confirms that Aker BioMarine is protecting the unique environment, habitats and species living in the Southern Ocean.

The fishery first achieved MSC certification in June 2010. All MSC certified fisheries must be completely reassessed within five years of certification. This reassessment showed that Aker BioMarine not only continues to operate to the highest standards of environmental sustainability, it has also improved its practices and knowledge in order to better manage the fishery.

Over the last four years Aker BioMarine has delivered three requirements set as conditions of MSC certification. This has resulted in improvements in data collection, better understanding of the fishery’s impacts on juvenile fish and measures to reduce the risk of localised depletion of krill.

As a result, the assessment team determined that no further conditions of MSC certification were required.

The fishery also scored highly against the 31 individual criteria which form the MSC Fisheries Standard.

At current levels, Antarctic krill is one of the world’s most underexploited marine stocks. Since 1994, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources(CCAMLR) has set total allowable catch limits for the entire Antarctic. Recognising the need to protect krill populations, which are a vital source of food to other wildlife, CCAMLR has set trigger catch limits at one percent of the total estimated biomass (620,000 tonnes).

Current krill catch in the fishery area (CCAMLR Area 48) represents around 0.4% (212,000 tonnes) of the total krill biomass (60.3 million tonnes) and 34% of the trigger catch limit. At these rates fishing has a minimal impact on predators and other species in the food chain.

Aker BioMarine has taken significant steps to protect other species living in the Antarctic Southern Ocean. This includes using a bespoke “Eco-Harvesting” method which has a fine mesh, monitored by underwater cameras, to prevent anything larger than krill being caught. Recent research shows that bycatch of juvenile species is around 0.2% of the total catch.

Aker BioMarine also provides financial support to NGOs and scientific institutions. It has 100% observer coverage on all vessels and allows non-company scientists it use its on-board research platforms free of charge.  It also contributes five “science days” a year for independent research so that scientists can go to specific areas to document impacts that the fishery is having on krill and krill-dependent predators.

Sigve Nordrum, Sustainability Director at Aker BioMarine said: “We are reassured that the scientific panel, after an in-depth review of the fishery, have concluded that Aker BioMarine’s krill fishery does not negatively impact the krill population, does not negatively affect the ecosystem and that the fishery is well managed.”

"Receiving the MSC certification in 2010 was a milestone for Aker BioMarine. We are proud to be recertified from 2014-2020 with a high score and without any conditions. We appreciate that our clients and their customers take sustainability seriously, and that they demand MSC certification from their suppliers."
During the reassessment process, auditors, Food Certification International (FCI), ran a comprehensive consultation process, which included input from NGOs, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries and the Institute of Marine Research.

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