Study affirms krill oil's low marine footprint

Study affirms krill oil's low marine footprint

Due to krill's low position in the food chain, total biotic resource use is much lower than with omega-3 production from most fish sources.

Aker BioMarine Antarctic AKBM announces a new study published in Environmental Science and Technology titled "Life Cycle Environmental Impacts of Three Products Derived from Wild-Caught Antarctic Krill (Euphausia superba)." The study, authored, by Robert Parker and Prof. Peter Tyedmers, was undertaken at the School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia.

The research used life cycle assessment (LCA) to evaluate the environmental performance of krill harvesting and processing activities. Impacts included ozone depleting, acidifying and greenhouse gas emissions along with total energy use and living resource inputs.

The study calculated the marine footprint of Antarctic krill via biotic resource use (BRU). Utilizing BRU, the marine footprint of different sources of omega-3s can be compared, and due to krill's low position in the food chain, total BRU is much lower than what is common in omega-3 production from most fish sources. (Biotic resources are living natural resources such as forests, animals, birds and fish and the extent of their use by humans can be measured and compared by estimating the size of the base of the food chain that supports their production.)

"Aker BioMarine is, to our knowledge, the first omega-3 producer that has taken the important step of measuring and documenting its carbon and marine footprint. Biotic Resource Use was significantly lower than most other marine omega-3 sources as a result of krill's low position in the food chain, while the carbon footprint was higher, though still relatively low when compared to many high-value commercial species such as cod, tuna or lobster," stated Rob Parker, the study's lead author.

Sigve Nordrum, conservation director for Aker BioMarine commented, "This is a thorough evaluation of the environmental issues and impacts associated with krill-derived products. We are pleased to note that the biotic resource impact compares very favorably to other fisheries for omega oils, and provides feedback that we can consider to continually improve our best-practices in harvesting krill."

Aker BioMarine has now measured and calculated the carbon footprint of its krill oil production. In terms of krill oil's carbon footprint and a number of related impacts, decreasing fuel consumption by the fishing and/or resupply vessels would provide the greatest opportunities for improvement. Tactics to consider include reducing the number of trips between the fishing vessel and port, improving engine efficiency and increasing either krill catch or processing yield.

This study is the second from the authors. The first, published in the journal Ecological Indicators, assessed only the biotic component of Aker BioMarine's ecological footprint. While a vast amount of uncertainty and variability is inherent in marine footprints, krill was generally found to have a footprint similar to that of menhaden and markedly lower than species like anchovy, herring and blue whiting as a result of its low trophic level.

In its ongoing efforts to document and improve its krill fishery sustainability, full access to all of Aker BioMarine's fishing, energy consumption and production data was given to the authors.

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