Werner is a scientific advisor to a newly formed non profit called the Antarctic Wildlife Research Fund. The fund was formed with the cooperation of AkerBiomarine, the world’s largest krill harvester, World Wildlife Fund Norway, which in the past has worked with Aker on sustainability concerns and the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition.
All of those organizations are cooperating through the new organization with a single objective in mind: To sustain the health of the krill population. Unlike some other of the world’s ecosystems, the Antarctic food web is short and simple. For the most part, it depends on krill and krill alone.
“Everything in Antarctica either feeds on krill or feeds on something that feeds on krill,” Werner told NutraIngredients-USA.
Werner said the new organization will facilitate and promote research on the Antarctic ecosystem. Among the goals for conservation will be to extend the coverage of fisheries observers to every vessel operating in the region at all times.
Krill was at one time being harvested at higher levels where fishing vessels from the Soviet Union were operating in the Southern Ocean. With the collapse of the USSR, harvest levels dropped dramatically, and have rebounded slowly over the past 15 years, he said. This gave a breathing space for sustainability research to start to have an impact on how the fishery was being managed. Challenges lie ahead, but Werner said that he is optimistic that krill harvesters can find a level that will maintaing the ecosystem’s health indefinitely.