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Sea harvest

Consumers only accept sustainable krill, says newly certified Aker Aus

By RJ Whitehead , 17-Jul-2013

Consumers only accept sustainable krill, says newly certified Aker Aus

Aker BioMarine’s Australian operation can now carry the Marine Stewardship Council eco-label, something its head says is essential to compete in the eco-fixated market Down Under.

When we first entered the krill fisheries, a lot of the Australian public were aware that krill occupied a place at the bottom of the food chain, so it’s the main diet for a lot of the marine animals in the Southern Ocean,” said Lalen Dogan, Aker’s managing director for Australasia. 

Absolutely critical

According to a survey commissioned by Aker that looked into krill oil and registered the views of almost 3,000 participants, when asked about sustainability, the majority said it was an absolutely critical issue; that they would think twice about using krill that wasn’t harvested in a managed way.

For us, it was very important from day one to get our marine management right, and really we have been at the lead of the whole sustainability story with krill harvesting after developing what we call an eco-harvesting system, which virtually eliminates all bycatches,” explained Dogan.

An international nonprofit organisation, MSC sets the standards for sustainable fishing, and demands a strong commitment to ensuring a healthy ecosystem. In order to maintain MSC Certification, Aker undergoes annual auditing during which it must maintain certain benchmarks and conditions.

We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our infrastructure - in our vessels and harvesting and processing technologies. Every year, we we donate our vessel once a year for a week to the scientific community and they carry out researching of fisheries in the Antarctic region,” he added.

Wide acceptance

It is practices like these, he says, have gone a long way to driving eco-aware consumers to accept krill products as environmentally friendly.

At the start, we knew it was going to be difficult to get into krill harvesting - for the wider community to accept it. But now the general consensus is that krill is certainly a lot more sustainable than fisheries in general.”

"Sustainability is central to our business operations," said Webjørn Eikrem, Aker’s head of upstream operations. "Our ultimate goal is to continuously meet the highest environmental standards in sustainable management while producing great krill products for our customers in Australia and worldwide."

The krill market has experienced triple-digit growth within the Australian complementary medicines market over the last year-and-a-half. "Consumers and industry are mindful of the health benefits, as well as the need for balance in managing this important natural resource," Dogan concluded.