Skip to main content

Aker BioMarine krill fishery gains MSC certification

The Aker BioMarine krill (Euphausia superba) fishery has been awarded Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification following a rigorous, independent assessment against the MSC standard for sustainable and well managed fisheries. Products from this Antarctic based fishery are now eligible to bear the MSC ecolabel, identifying their origin from a sustainable source. Only products that originate from the Aker BioMarine fishery are eligible to bear the MSC ecolabel.

The Aker BioMarine krill fishery operates in the Antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean. The management of all fishing activity in the Antarctic is overseen by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) established in 1982 to protect and manage the extensive marine resources of Antarctica. Management rules and practices closely follow precautionary and ecosystem-based principles. Catch levels for krill are set by CCAMLR based on the advice of their scientific committee to minimise risks either to the krill population or to species within the Antarctic ecosystem that rely upon krill as a food source. 

Precautionary catch levels minimise fishery impact

At current levels, fishing pressure on krill is very low – less than one per cent of the most recent estimated biomass (estimated by CCAMLR to be 37 million tonnes). [NB in late 2010, this biomass figure was changed to 60.3 million tonnes by CCAMLR]  Aker BioMarine catches between 40,000 and 50,000 tonnes annually, from a total allowable catch of approximately 3.5 million tonnes. Total landings (by all boats operating in the area) for 2007/08 were 150,000 tonnes (approximately 4% of the total allowable catch for the year). 

Stakeholder contribution to certification decision

Stakeholder organisations, WWF-Norway and the Antarctic and Southern Oceans Coalition (ASOC), have  made a significant contribution to the certification decision through their active participation and rigorous review of the data and certifier’s reports. Stakeholders have, at different points in the assessment process, raised additional concerns that will now be addressed through a set of specific actions  which support the further development of better scientific understanding of the krill fishery. These management plans reflect stakeholder concerns about the level of knowledge on the risks posed to predator and bycatch species by krill fishing, and the fishery has committed to a defined programme of specific actions  to undertake further studies and risk assessments. Progress against these actions will be monitored at annual surveillance audits, and stakeholder organisations will have these further opportunities to review the resulting data and how it relates to the fishery’s performance. 

Nina Jensen, Conservation Director in WWF-Norway, said: “Aker BioMarine is the most proactive player in the krill fishery, and has implemented the right measures —such as 100 per cent observer coverage, and real-time reporting procedures — to ensure the continued sustainability of this fishery. By permitting scientists onboard at no cost, they are also making a contribution to science and research.” 

What the fishery says

Welcoming the certification, Aker BioMarine Chief Executive Halvard Muri, said:  “As a company that is entirely committed to environmental sustainability, we are very pleased to achieve MSC certification for our krill fishery.  This certification is a significant step in our continued focus on sustainability and on maintaining the health of krill populations and their ecosystem  We hope that the MSC certification assures our customers that our Omega-3-rich krill oil products and ingredients were sustainably harvested, giving them the chance to vote for sustainability.”  

What the MSC says

Rupert Howes, MSC Chief Executive said: ““I congratulate Aker BioMarine on the certification of their Antarctic krill fishery. It was a bold move putting this fishery forward into assessment as there are divergent views on the merits of fishing in the Southern Oceans and also on fishing low trophic species such as krill. The MSC programme is open to all fisheries, consistent with the UN FAO Guidelines for credible certification and labelling programmes. This ensures that all types of fisheries can strive to meet the MSC standard and demonstrate they are implementing environmentally sustainable practices. We rely on the independent and rigorous science based assessment to determine whether or not each individual fishery that enters assessment meets MSC’s standard for environmentally responsible and sustainable fishing.  This fishery has met that standard.

“The MSC programme is also premised on a high degree of stakeholder engagement and this assessment has certainly benefited from the active participation of both the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) and WWF- Norway.  We are grateful to these organisations for their contributions which have undoubtedly made a significant contribution to the ultimate decision and content of the agreed Action Plan for this fishery.”

Key facts about MSC