Krill Fishing

The expansive growth of krill fishing, in addition to the already existing demands of environmental factors, are causing ever growing effects on the krill populations and therefore the krill dependent predators.

Krill fisheries play a predominant part in the change in abundance observed within the Southern Ocean. The krill are not only processed for human consumption in medical and dietary commodities but are also used in the fabrication of items for aquaculture; for example in fish feed or bait. Additionally, they are used in livestock and pet feeds. They are in demand due to their high levels of protein (some exceeding 40% or more of their dry weight) and also for their lipid content. The krill fishing industry directly removes hundreds or thousands of tonnes of krill from the ocean – approximate values of between 150,000-200,000 tonnes, 2010 (Figure 13) (Schiermeier, 2010).

Aker BioMarine’s Saga vessel using Eco-Harvesting technology
Figure 13: Aker BioMarine’s Saga vessel using Eco-Harvesting technology 

Due to the effects of fishing for krill using trawling methods, whereby on hauling the net out of the water the organisms are compressed against each other resulting in the loss of lipids, the krill are now fished using a suction pump placed within the cod end of the net. By using this fishing technique the krill can be removed from the ocean whilst still in water. Having removed the krill they are pulverised and dehydrated in order to form krill meal (Figure 14) (The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2010). In 2010 it was seen that an Oslo-based company, Aker Biomarine, produced 8,600 tonnes of krill meal for the aquaculture market, almost 40% higher than the previous year (Schiermeier, 2010).

Krill meal formed by the pulverisation and dehydration of kill
Figure 14: Krill meal formed by the pulverisation and dehydration of kill