THE Norwegian Olympic Seafood Antarctic krill fishery has achieved certification to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard for sustainable fishing.
Following the rigorous, third-party assessment, krill products from this fishery can now carry the blue MSC eco-label.
The krill from the fishery is mostly used for Omega-3 supplements and with a growing demand for fish oil products, the importance of sustainably sourced Omega-3 is increasing.
Achieving the MSC certification demonstrates that the fishery is operating to the highest standards of environmental sustainability in order to protect the unique ecosystems and species in the Southern Ocean.
The management of the fishery is closely regulated by the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), established in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life.
CCAMLR is widely regarded as the most precautionary of all organisations managing high seas fishing when setting krill quotas. The total catch allowed in the fishery area represents just one per cent (620,000 tonnes) of the population of krill (estimated at 62 million tonnes).
Olympic Seafood currently catches around three per cent (15,000 tonnes) of the 620,000 tonnes catch limit set by CCAMLR.
By contrast, it is estimated that predators eat at least 20 milliontonnes annually (32 per cent of the total krill biomass).
There are trigger levels set so that fishing cannot be too concentrated in one area. At these low rates, fishing has a very minimal impact on predators and other species in the food chain.
This is the second fishery for krill (Euphasia superba) that meet the world’s most robust standard for environmentally sustainable fisheries.
The assessment of the Olympic Seafood fishery also considered impacts of other fishing activities on krill stocks in the area, to ensure that their cumulative impacts are sustainable.
‘The MSC is delighted to welcome the second krill fishery in the programme,’ said Camiel Derichs, European director at the Marine Stewardship Council.
‘Certification confirms Olympic Seafood’s sound environmental practices, assuring the fishery has minimum impacts in the Antarctic waters where it operates.
‘The excellent management by CCAMLR means krill stocks remain in a near pristine state, and is exploited at extremely low levels.’
The fishery uses a trawl with a fine mesh panel across the entrance to prevent bigger fish from entering the main body of the net.
Nets are also fitted with sea lion excluder devices which close the net entrance in order to prevent entanglement of marine mammals.
As a result, bycatch of unwanted species is negligible and there is no effect or interaction between the fishery and endangered, threatened and protected species.
Krill provides a high quality raw material for Omega-3 supplement products and most of the krill harvested by Olympic Seafood is used for krill meal and oil for human consumption.
‘Consumers may not always make the link between Omega-3 supplements and the sea and species from which they originate,’ said Derichs.
‘This certification will increase consumer awareness and challenge the wider Omega-3 industry on their sustainability credentials.’
The MSC eco-label gives an assurance to consumers that the krill oil product they buy is originating from a sustainable fishery. For Olympic Seafood the assessment to the MSC standard was an important step to work for a more sustainable future:
‘We are very pleased to receive recognition of our hard work in Antarctica,’ said Bjørnar Kleiven, managing director of Olympic Seafood.
‘Since its inception, Olympic Seafood has been a driving force in ensuring good environmental management and responsible fishing in Antarctica.
‘Environmentally sustainable management of krill resources is vital to our success. We see it as our duty to preserve the ecosystem and do this by using advanced and modern fishing methods.
‘Our use of technology, knowledge and the newest vessel in the krill fishing fleet, mean that we are extremely well equipped to be innovators in sustainable fishing.’
More than 250 fisheries in over 30 countries are certified to the MSC’s standard.