Vacuuming Antarctica for krill – The Corporations plundering the Earth’s last Frontier

January 2015 Report
Vacuuming Antarctica for krill – graphic of fishing boat in Antarctica

Executive summary

Around the world, growing demand for farmed fi sh and omega-3 health supplements is coming at a hidden cost – the Antarctic, and one of the last unspoiled oceans on the planet. In a quest to exploit the “pink gold” of Antarctica’s krill as a raw input into both fi sh farming and omega-3 supplements, this pristine environment and its whales, penguins, seals and birds are dangerously threatened.

But it doesn’t need to be this way – and it’s time for the companies threatening the Antarctic to hear this message.

After depleting many of the world’s oceans of their fi sh, companies are now going after what’s left at the bottom of the food chain – the krill, a tiny crustacean that is the heart of the Antarctic ecosystem and feed its penguins, seals and whales. Using giant industrial factory-ships, seafood companies are literally vacuuming the oceans by sucking up the krill that other marine creatures depend on. Simultaneously, Antarctic ice is melting due to climate change, depleting the krill’s ice algae food source. The end result is that since the1970s, the krill population has already dropped by 80%. In turn, research now shows that Antarctic penguin populations, which depend on krill, have collapsed by 50% in studied colonies over the last 30 years.

With climate change accelerating, pressure will relentlessly increase on this delicate wildlife ecosystem. Plundering krill in an already-threatened ecosystem is reckless in the extreme.

This exploitation is ultimately dependent on a market for krill-based products. Currently, this route to market is provided by a number of major retailers, including Walmart, Target, CVS, and Walgreen’s. These companies continue to sell krill products despite clear contradictions with their own sustainability commitments. Our message to these companies is simple:

Stop supporting the dangerous exploitation of Antarctic krill. Take the krill off your shelves, and leave it for the penguins and the Antarctic ecosystem.

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