Overfishing of Krill Threatens Ocean Ecosystem

Publication: International Herald Tribune

Author: David Fogarty

05/25/2008 - In the global rush for resources, a tiny pink crustacean living in the seas around Antarctica is testing man's ability to manage one of the last great fisheries in the world without damaging the environment.

Krill, which grow to about six centimeters, or two inches, occurs in vast schools and is the major source of food for whales, seals, penguins and sea birds. Without it, scientists say, the ecosystem in and around Antarctica could collapse.

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But new processing techniques by the Norwegian company Aker BioMarine have recently changed the whole krill fishery, scientists and environmentalists say.

The company has created a new way to harvest and process krill continuously. Previously, it was hard to catch and then later process large amounts of krill because the enzymes inside them break down quickly, spoiling much of the catch.

"The upshot of all this is that instead of one fleet catching 100,000 tons in a season, one boat can catch 100,000 tons in one season," said Gerry Leape, director of the Antarctic Krill Conservation Project.

"All of a sudden if that technology is replicated, you could go from a conservative catch to something that could start being a problem. We are not against krill fishing. We're just against an explosion of it that will not only jeopardize the krill but also have the impacts on the predators and not take into the necessary changes that will be caused by climate change."

Read the full article Overfishing of Krill Threatens Ocean Ecosystem on the International Herald Tribune's Web site.

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