Core Marine Food Source Faces Depletion
Small, shrimp-like creatures that inhabit the world’s oceans, krill are one of the planet’s largest and least contaminated biomasses. The tiny crustaceans are the primary food source for a variety of fish, whales, penguins and seabird species. Krill are also used to make feed for livestock, poultry and farmed fish and in nutritional supplements—krill oil is a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids and less likely than fish oil to be contaminated with mercury or heavy metals.
Recent studies cited by National Geographic suggest that since the 1970s, Antarctic krill stocks may have dropped by up to 80 percent. Environmental groups and scientists worry that new fishing technologies, coupled with climate warming that removes ice algae, the crustaceans’ primary food source, could deplete krill populations and potentially devastate the Antarctic’s ecosystem.
Denzil Miller, Ph.D., former executive secretary of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, advises, “There are a whole lot of dominoes that follow afterwards that just look too horrendous to contemplate.” Concerned consumers can opt to avoid farm-raised fish; choose organic, non-grain-fed meat and poultry; and substitute algae-derived omega-3 supplements for fish or krill oil capsules.
Source: Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (asoc.org)