Industry requests Whole Foods krill ban answers

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Industry requests Whole Foods krill ban answers

Related tags: Krill, Omega-3 fatty acid, Antarctica

International omega-3 group GOED has written to Whole Foods asking for further details about why the retailer has pulled krill oil supplements from its shelves, while providing it with additional information about the krill fishery management.

Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED) executive director Adam Ismail highlighted work by the body that monitors the Antarctic krill fishery, the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), that demonstrated the fishery was well managed.

The letter reached Texas-based Whole Foods management on Monday last week, but as yet Whole Foods have not engaged with Ismail or the krill industry on its contents.

“CCAMLR is a unique organization because it involves the governments of many nations, as well as concerned stewardship organizations, like Greenpeace,”​ Ismail wrote.

“CCAMLR actually just implemented new measures in November for the krill fishery, which further protects predator species that feed on krill, as well as protecting the krill fishery itself.”

In implementing the ban Whole Foods posted a statement in its stores which read:

“Krill are an important source of food for marine animals including penguins, seals, and whales in the Antarctic. Declines of some predator populations in the areas where the krill fishery operates suggest that fishery management needs to better understand how to evaluate the prey requirements of other marine species in order to set sustainable catch levels for krill.

Consequently, at present we are choosing to discontinue the sale of krill supplements as we continue to evaluate this emerging research. Please consider alternatives to krill oil supplements such as fish oil or astaxanthin supplements.”

A Whole Foods spokesperson said the company had sent the statement to GOED, but could not confirm if any other negotiations had taken place, nor which krill supplement brands had been yanked from shelves across its 270 North American and UK stores.

Managed?

While there have been documented concerns about the effect on krill populations and whales and other sea mammals that feed on them from fishing for krill in the feeding zones for those animals, the krill industry maintains there are only nine vessels licensed to harvest krill in the Antarctic, and all of these operate to CCAMLR​guidelines.

Daniel Fabricant, PhD, the vice president of global government and scientific affairs at the Washington DC-based Natural Products Association (NPA), expressed some sympathy with the over-fishing argument if krill were in fact being fished from predator species sources, but reiterated the controlled nature of the fishery.

I would imagine that the removal of krill at the source has the potential to alter the environment of these species and may pose a threat to the sustainability of local marine mammal populations,”​ he said.

“That said, I believe the bulk of the marine oils that are in commerce are produced either through farms or regulatory programs like the CCAMLR, so that’s where the real question regarding sustainability would appear to reside.”

He called for the parties to come together for discussions.

Animal v human

Those working in krill like Mickey Schuett, the director of sales at Colorado-based Azantis, expressed a certain bafflement at Whole Foods’ decision.

“When you consider about 99 percent of the krill catch is used in animal feed and only one percent for human nutrition, this ban seems hard to justify,” ​he told NutraIngredients-USA.com, while pointing to the status of the CCAMLR protocols that included placing independent scientific observers on all nine vessels to monitor harvesting practices.

“I think this will end up being a positive for the krill industry because in the end what it is doing is spotlighting how well managed the industry is.”

Rudi Moerck, the chief executive officer of krill supplier Valensa described the Whole Foods action as “non-scientific and emotional”​, and wondered about the ethics of the ban when it continued to carry products containing the likes of salmon and herring, fisheries that have had their sustainability questioned.

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5 comments

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I love Krill Oil. Period.

Posted by Johnny Evan,

This is some kind of political move. Who knows what happened in back door meetings. I never bought my krill oil at Whole Foods anyway. That place takes an item and marks it up by 70% in order for rich people to feel proper about using it. It's disgusting.

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Marine resource sustainability

Posted by Todd,

The most sustainable path moving forward is to utilize the byproduct or trimmings of marine resources intended for human consumption. Every year millions of pounds of trimmings are wasted that could yield thousands of tons of marine lipids and protein.

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Krill Ban gives new hope for shark

Posted by jim currie,

Let's hope the proposed "ban" on Krill highlights the problem of the shark. The biomass of krill is the largest in the world but that of the shark is rapidly decreasing with millions killed every year for the booming shark fin soup demand in Asia. Numbers in the Med are down 97% in the last 200 years according to a report by the Washington-based Lenfest Ocean Program.
So should we not be more, or as ,concerned with Shark Chondroitin?

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