Friday, June 3, 2011

The Other Side of Krill Oil

It’s articles like this that really grind our proverbial gears, here at ASOC. The piece lists the major possibilities of krill, from its benefits, to human health, to a near promise of fortune for any would-be investor in the relatively new industry. Where is the downside of krill oil? Nowhere in the article is there a single mention of the devastating environmental and ecosystem impact of harvesting krill.

The biggest problems with the krill fishery are that a)whales, penguins, seals and other species are hugely or almost totally reliant on krill as a food-source; and b) there is too much uncertainty as to the abundance of krill. We also don't know how climate change and ice-melt will influence krill populations. It’s not difficult to find scientific papers that show how the movement of various penguin populations relates directly with the movement of krill blooms.

To responsibly harvest krill for human consumption, we need to first undertake krill biomass surveys. This will allow us to attain a more confident estimate of how much krill is out there and thus how much we can sustainably extract with minimal ecosystem impact.

As the krill industry grows we cannot examine it myopically. That is, we must not only consider the immediate health and possible financial benefits but also the future ecosystem impacts. Until we gage the impact of wildlife and climate change on krill for the present and into the future, we cannot responsibly add the burden of industrial krill harvesting on this vital species.

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