Krill fishing is disputed; let there be no doubt about that. While overfishing is diminishing krill populations drastically, krill are also being destroyed by climate change in a classic “scissors effect”. The situation is extremely urgent because, in addition to being the building blocks of the Antarctic food chain, krill also sequester of enormous quantities carbon dioxide, thus acting to mitigate climate change.

The krill ecosystem involves very complex relationships between krill, algae, carbon dioxide, melting ice and acidification. We freely admit that these relationships and their implications are not fully understood at this time. We therefore demand that the most sensible and intelligent action be taken at the present time, which is to strictly limit all krill fishing until we understand these threats more fully. This is what we seek to achieve.

False legitimacy

Unfortunately, krill fishing has gained some appearance of legitimacy due to marine certification schemes and labels that erroneously claim to be protecting the krill. To calm concerns about declining krill stocks, bodies such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Friend of the Sea (FOS), and CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) have tried to qualify and quantify safe fishing of krill. Each scheme fails, to various degrees, to provide full and comprehensive protection of krill and the Antarctic.

The MSC and FOS certification systems have been criticised by numerous leading environmental organisations on several occasions. This is because those certifications programs do not seriously evaluate the effect of climate change on future krill populations and also because of systemic deficiencies in the programs.

Melting ice, CO2 acidification killing the krill

Antarctic krill get their own nutrition from ice-algae growing on the bottom side of Antarctic ice. As global warming melts ice cover, the krill have less food, contributing in part to the alarming 80% drop in krill population since the 1970s. As Antarctic ice will undoubtedly continue to disappear, krill face a food shortage which will have impacts all the way up the food chain.

A further dramatic and worrying event is CO2 acidification of the world’s oceans, which scientists say is the worst in at least the past 300 million years. Acidification negatively affects the krill’s embryonic development, which is very worrying since krill eggs hatch at ocean depths where CO2 and acidification levels are the highest in history.

Many Antarctic species depend on one food source – krill. They not only function as food for whales, penguins, seals and seabirds, but because of all the CO2 rich algae they consume, they are also enormously important carbon binders that help mitigate global warming.

melting iceberg

Downward spiral could accelerate, rapidly

The Antarctic is very delicately-balanced, with the krill at the very heart of this interrelated ecosystem. They serve both as food for larger animals and CO2 sinks based on their consumption of algae. Their disappearance could very easily accelerate in a downward spiral, with catastrophic effects. We’re taking a big risk upsetting such a delicate system for fish food and omega-3 supplements for humans.

In an attempt by companies, which have a clear financial motivation, to justify this controversial large-scale fishing of krill, some fisheries have applied for and gained certifications from MSC and FOS. At the present time Aker Biomarine AS, based in Norway, is the only company krill-certified by MSC. But they will likely be followed by Olympic Seafood who in September 2014 entered the assessment for certification. Olympic Seafood is one of the companies certified by FOS.

The fact is that neither MSC nor FOS certifications take systematic and thorough consideration of the impact of climate change on krill (or any other fishery). The same goes for CCAMLR, the regulative body with the ungrateful task of protecting the Antarctic and safeguarding “rational use” of marine living resources. In fact, in CCAMLR’s convention, “rational use” is included in the term “conservation”, making the two potentially conflicting aims impossible to separate.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

MSCIn 1996 the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Unilever formed MSC as a joint venture, with the stated aim to halt the decline in the viability of global fisheries and incentivize sustainable fishing. In 2000 MSC granted fisheries certification for the first time, and by 2012 183 fisheries were MSC certified.

Troubles and concerns about MSC were raised as soon as it was created, and the objections have grown stronger as the number of certifications has boomed. A report published in 2012 examined seafood stocks that were certified by MSC and FOS and found 31% of MSC-certified were overfished and subject to continuing overfishing.

MSC’s obvious conflict of interest threatens objectivity

Scientists and environmental groups have criticized MSC on issues of technical stringency and nebulous regulatory language, as well as risks of score inflation. Under the rules, a fishery applying for certification hires an accredited certifier to do an assessment that MSC uses to decide whether to grant certification. The fishery’s cost for a full assessment varies between $15,000-150,000.

Strangely, MSC allows the obvious conflict of interest that arises when fisheries can choose a certifier that they hope will give a positive result, since such a positive result almost guarantees that the certifier will get future work and revenue for ongoing annual monitoring.

In 2010 Aker Biomarine became the first krill harvester to get certification from MSC in a decision which disregarded strong objections from numerous environmental organizations including, among others, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Antarctic & Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC).

ASOC criticized, among other things, the lack of consideration given to climate change when estimating the krill biomass and future trajectories of krill yield. Pew Environmental Group, the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, criticized the certification on similar grounds. Gerald Leape, director of Pew's Antarctic Krill Conservation Project (AKCP) reacted critically by saying: ”In its decision, the MSC ignored irrefutable evidence put forward by numerous stakeholders including prominent Antarctic scientists, climate change and forage fishery experts, and environmental groups”.

Other environmental groups have rejected any possible certification of any krill fishery, since this is most obviously contrary to the MSC’s stated guiding principles. Others objected that Aker’s application cannot be viewed in isolation but must be considered in the context of the fishery as a whole.

Another systemic critique of MSC is based on FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which among other things, requires that ”states should encourage the use of fish for human consumption …” MSC’s Principle 3 , in turn, states that fisheries must respect local, national and international laws and standards. Putting these two statements together, while considering the fact that most of the krill catch is turned into fishmeal and dietary supplements, means that krill fishery violates FAO’s Code of Conduct.

FOS is no friend

FOSFriend of the Sea (FOS), a group founded in 2006, has also been criticized by a variety of environmental organizations and scientists. A 2012 study that examined seafood stocks certified by MSC and FOS found that 19% of FOS-certified were overfished and subject to on-going overfishing, and thus did not deserve any label which claimed otherwise. FOS is also been criticized for lack of professionalism and transparency, poor stakeholder involvement and weak language used in the criteria.

CCAMLR has changed for the worse

CCAMLRTo a lesser extent, but equally concerning, is the fact that the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has become ineffective. Established in 1982 to respond to increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill, CCAMLR is an international commission with 24 member countries and the EU. All of the krill fishing nations are members of CCAMLR. The decision process is based on consensus, which gives each one of the members the opportunity to veto any decision, and ultimately makes serious environmental progress difficult.

CCAMLR was for many years held as a leader in marine resource management. However in the last three years the organization has been heavily criticized as failing to protect the Southern Ocean. For example in 2012 CCAMLR joined the international movement to develop a global network of marine protected areas (MPAs). However, CCAMLR failed to reach consensus on a proposal to create the world’s largest network of MPAs because the proposition to establish MPAs in the Southern Ocean has been vetoed several times over the past three years by various fishing nations. This has raised concerns that CCAMLR has abandoned its original conservation mission in favour of commercial fishing interests. CCAMLR has also been criticized for not taking proper consideration of climate change in their decision making process.

Better understanding needed before we can certify anything

As mentioned at the top of this report, the bottom line is that labels and certification systems are too simple to realistically evaluate the very complex interrelations between krill, the marine food chain and climate change. The obvious and most rational course of action for the moment is to hold off on decimating further the critically important krill population. This course of action must be a priority for all serious governments, fisheries and consumers to immediately put into effect, before it’s too late.

Illegal Fishing in Antarctica Shut Down by Sea Shepherd.
At the start of Operation Icefish in 2014, Sea Shepherd set out to locate and shut down illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Antarctica. Infamously named the "Bandit 6", the targets were six illegal poaching vessels known to Interpol and CCAMLR, who had previously manag...
Dramatic Drone Footage of the Sinking of the Viking
Sea Shepherd has released dramatic footage, including drone footage, of the sinking of the last of the “Bandit 6” toothfish poaching vessels, the Viking, in Pangandaran, West Java. Director of Sea Shepherd Asia, Gary Stokes, was at the sinking. “Another of the Bandit 6 po...
The Arrest of the Viking
The hunt for the last of six known toothfish poaching vessels has ended with the arrest of the Nigerian-flagged Viking in Indonesia. The announcement of the vessel’s arrest was made at a press conference in Jakarta today, held by Indonesian Fisheries Minister, Susi Pudjiastut...
The Arrest of the Viking
The hunt for the last of six known toothfish poaching vessels has ended with the arrest of the Nigerian-flagged Viking in Indonesia. The announcement of the vessel’s arrest was made at a press conference in Jakarta today, held by Indonesian Fisheries Minister, Susi Pudjiastut...
The Arrest Of The Kunlun
On February 2 2015, while at the helm of the Sea Shepherd ship The MV Sam Simon​ on Operation Icefish 1, Capt. Sid Chakravarty and his crew intercepted the internationally wanted toothfish-poaching vessel, Kunlun, in Australian waters in the Southern Ocean. Capt. Chakravarty th...
The Search Begins
#VIDEO: The Search Begins - Operation Icefish 2015-16 Campaign Update Two weeks after they departed from Fremantle, Australia, with bad weather behind them, Captain Chakravarty and the crew of the Steve Irwin are focused on the task at hand - finding the poachers that continue t...
Blue Whales Greet Steve Irwin
Amazing, rare footage of an endangered Blue whale and her calf, captured by the crew of the Steve Irwin during their search for poachers on Operation Icefish 2015-16. Blue whales are the largest animals that have ever lived on this planet, growing up to 30 meters in length. --...
Steve Irwin Departs Fremantle Today on Operation Icefish 2015-16
In just a matter of hours, Sea Shepherd's Flagship, the Steve Irwin, will depart Fremantle, Western Australia, on Operation Icefish 2015-16. These 35 individuals are the only thing that stands between illegality and the precious marine ecosystem of Antarctica. Help them to #Def...
Operation Icefish 2015-16: Southern Ocean Defense Campaign
This Austral summer, Sea Shepherd’s Flagship, the Steve Irwin, is headed for the Southern Ocean for the organization’s 12th Southern Ocean Defense Campaign, Operation Icefish 2015-16. Led by Captain, Siddharth Chakravarty, Sea Shepherd will once again defend the pristine wat...
Steve Irwin Dry Dock 2015, Fremantle, Australia
Sea Shepherd's Flagship, the Steve Irwin, arrived in Perth Western Australia last week and has been undergoing final preparations in a secure dry dock facility, prior to its departure for Sea Shepherd's upcoming Southern Ocean Defense Campaign, Operation Icefish 2015-16. The ca...
Poaching Vessel, Thunder, Sinks in Suspicious Circumstances
On April 6, the notorious poaching vessel, Thunder, sank inside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Sao Tome. “Usually when a vessel is sinking, the captain will close all hatches so as to maintain buoyancy. However, on the Thunder, the reverse was done - doors and hatches w...
Sea Shepherd Assaulted While Attempting to Communicate with The Thunder
“Human trafficking and modern day slavery is rife in the high seas fishing industry ... Given this, we decided to try to communicate with the crew, to assess their situation.” - Capt. Sid Chakravarty. The Sea Shepherd small boat crew successfully threw messages in plastic co...
Dramatic Footage of Near Collision In High Seas Battle With Notorious Poaching Vessel
The Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, narrowly avoided a collision with the Interpol-listed, Thunder, as the poaching vessel made multiple attempts to retrieve its illegal fishing gear from waters in the southwest of the Indian Ocean. ---- Sea Shepherd is an international, non-pro...
The Sam Simon Intercepts Two Poaching Vessels That Evaded New Zealand Navy
February 2, 2015 - The Sam Simon intercepts two poaching vessels that evaded the New Zealand Navy, in Australian waters. The Yongding and the Kunlun, two of three poaching vessels that fled from the New Zealand Navy in January 2015, display aggressive action as they are interce...
EXCLUSIVE: Crew of the Sam Simon Retrieve 3rd Illegal Gillnet
Through day and night, wind, rain and snow, the dedicated crew of the Sam Simon have battled to rid the Southern Ocean of the devastation of thousands of metres of illegal gillnets, abandoned by the poaching vessel Thunder. Watch the crew in action during their operations to retr...
To The Veronicas, love from Sea Shepherd
Australian band, The Veronicas, are dedicated supporters of Sea Shepherd. Their video 'If You Love Someone' features images of Sea Shepherd's frontline defence of the whales of Antarctic. This video is a thank you to the band from the crew of Operation Icefish, who are currently...
Sea Shepherd Breaks Record For World's Longest Sea Chase of a Poaching Vessel
On January 8 2015, the Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, marked the 22nd day of its pursuit of the Interpol-listed poaching vessel, Thunder. In doing so, the conservation ship has broken the record for the world's longest sea chase of a poaching vessel. ---- Sea Shepherd is an int...
Crew of the Bob Barker encounter rare "Ecotype D" Orcas
NEVER BEFORE SEEN FOOTAGE: On December 26, 2014, while in pursuit of the poaching vessel Thunder, the crew of Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, encountered a pod of rare “Ecotype D” Orcas. Marine ecologist and (Antarctic) Orca expert Robert L. Pitman, examined photos taken of t...
The Sam Simon Retrieves Illegal Gill Net Abandoned by Poachers
Watch exclusive video of the dedicated crew of the Sam Simon in action, hauling thousands of metres of illegal gillnet from the frigid waters of Antarctica. Without their direct intervention, countless numbers of Antarctica's rare marine creatures would have needlessly perished, ...
Bob Barker Intercepts the Thunder in the Southern Ocean
December 17, 2014 - The Sea Shepherd conservation ship, Bob Barker, intercepted the illegal fishing vessel Thunder inside the CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) region of management. ---- Sea Shepherd is an international, non-profit ma...
Operation Icefish Campaign Update - More news from the Sam Simon
The crew of the Sam Simon shares their anticipation for Operation Icefish. Hear what drives them to return year after year to protect the last great wilderness on the planet. ---- Sea Shepherd is an international, non-profit marine conservation organization that engages in dire...
Operation Icefish Campaign Update - Sam Simon Modifications
Captain Sid Chakravarty and crewmembers of the Sam Simon unveil the custom-built modifications that have been made to the Sea Shepherd ship in preparation for Operation Icefish. The upgrades, which are a key component of the campaign, will enable the crew confiscate any illegal ...
Operation Icefish - the Bob Barker departs Hobart
Captain Peter Hammarstedt and Bob Brown talk to media about Operation Icefish as the Bob Barker prepares to depart. The Sea Shepherd ship will join with the Sam Simon and patrol the Southern Ocean shadowlands for Antarctic and Patagonian Toothfish poachers.
Patagonia toothfish killing vessel during Operation Migaloo 2008
(File Footage) On February 23, 2008, while pursuing the Japanese whaling fleet, the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin discovered two vessels engaged in deploying deep set longlines. The South Korean registered Insung No. 2 is shown hauling up toothfish.
Operation Icefish Campaign Update - with Captain Peter Hammarstedt
Captain Peter Hammarstedt talks about Sea Shepherd's Southern Ocean patrol mission, Operation Icefish, targeting the illegal poaching of Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish. ---- Sea Shepherd is an international, non-profit marine conservation organization that engages in direct...
Antarctica: The World's Heritage
"Antarctica gives you a taste of what our oceans could have been like before human exploitation. It gives you a perception of what really is important in today's world -- A timeless, ancient place of breathtaking beauty and priceless ecological value. In a time where the fate of ...
Google Plus