News - February 21, 2008

‘Antarctic krill fishing unwise’

It is not a good idea to engage in large-scale krill fishing near the South Pole, thinks Dr Jan Andries van Franeker, an ecologist at Wageningen Imares. He has just returned from an expedition to the Antarctic, where he studied the role of these shrimp-like creatures in the food web.

Last November there was heightened media reporting on the plans to fish for krill around Antarctica to make up for the scarcity of fishmeal for farmed fish. ‘I would be very careful,’ said Van Franeker. ‘Krill appears to be a super-abundant source of food in the Southern Ocean, but it’s also the basis of an entire and unique food web. Many whale species feed on krill, but penguins – whose main source of food is squid – are indirectly dependent on it as well.’ According to Van Franeker, it is premature to conclude that there is abundant krill in the Southern Ocean. / Gert van Maanen

See article in Dutch.