As Aker BioMarine CEO Matts Johansen said, “It makes no sense to take something out of the ocean to improve our health, if it simultaneously compromises the health of the ocean.” Sustainability has been a core part of our corporate strategy from day one, as the company strives to responsibly harvest Antarctic krill all the while innovating in the biotech field. Our aim has always been to move the industry at-large forward, to ensure a sustainable approach from all players across the board. For our own operations, Aker BioMarine maintains a mindset of continual improvement, seeking to minimize our impact, protect marine life, reduce energy waste and always improve. It’s a dedicated effort from every corner of the company, and it’s yielding results.
Four signs that our sustainable approach is working.
1. The krill biomass is healthier than ever
If you compare the krill biomass scientifically measured at 60.3 million tonnes in year 2000 to the 62.6 million tonnes measured in 2019, this is a a sure sign of the health and stability of the resource on which our business is built. The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) is dedicated to making sure that this sustainable trend continues in all types of fisheries. Their focus is on fishery stocks, evaluating whether there are signs of reduction and assessing overall fish health. The krill fishery recently received its sixth in a row ‘A rating’ from SFP based on factors such as the company strategy, management, the current krill stock health and the future stock health. This rating is a solid testament to Aker BioMarine’s efforts to push forward the global agenda for improved ocean management.
3. The krill fishery is one of the soundest and most stable in the world
The krill fishery is lucky to be under the supervision of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), as they deserve credit for introducing a precautionary approach to catching krill back in the early 1980s. This group works to ensure that Aker BioMarine and other krill companies are complying with catch limits of less than 1% of the biomass. The result of their work is an industry that is complying. Aker BioMarine is one such compliant company, recently recognized by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), for the third time in a row, for our responsible approach. This recognition is granted to companies that catch well under the limits, are transparent throughout the entire process, and minimize bycatch through better technology and innovation. MSC also appreciated Aker BioMarine’s regular work with partners to understand more about krill, marine life and the health of the krill biomass.
10-year collaboration with MSC, the gold standard fishery certifications
- Aker BioMarine was the first krill fishery to be certified by MSC in 2010
- Recertification was the third consecutive MSC-certification of the sustainable fishery practices
- Unconditional re-certification in 2020 and a higher score achieved in the Ecosystem and Management System categories than in the previous assessment five years ago
Highlights from certification report
- Catch levels well below what would generally be regarded as a precautionary upper level relative to the best estimates available of stock size
- Active engagement and support to NGOs and scientific institutes, contributing to knowledge production
- Negligible by-catch and virtually no interaction with species other than the target krill or minimal retained species
- Well-established and well-functioning management regime and enforcement system for the fishery, including 100% observer coverage and catch reports after each haul
- Precautionary and ecosystem approach to managing the fishery
3. The amount of research into Antarctic marine life is growing
As the Marine Stewardship Council noted in its recent independent evaluation of Aker BioMarine, the company is actively engaging with partners in the scientific community to study marine life in Antarctica. Aker BioMarine is behind the Antarctic Wildlife Research (AWR) fund, for example, and has contributed more than USD 1 million since 2015 to various Antarctic ecosystem studies. The projects funded by AWR increase the company’s ability to project the evolution of the krill-based ecosystem in the Southern Ocean, and support our need to continue caring for this precious resource.
4. New technology lowers carbon emissions and increases krill capacity at the same time
The smart use of data is driving technological innovation across multiple industries these days, including aquaculture. Aker BioMarine is committed to working with the entire value chain, with the belief that technology can help reduce emissions on board vessels, in processing plants and within the logistics operations. One example is the newly built Antarctic Endurance, the company’s one-of-a-kind, energy efficient krill harvesting vessel. This vessel is 30 percent more efficient than today’s trawlers. There are many reasons behind this, but one contributing factor is the vessel’s SeaQ Green Pilot. This is a fuel and energy monitoring system that enables crew to optimize use and recover energy onboard. It’s a smart use of data that is re-shaping expectations for modern fishing vessels today.
The Antarctic Endurance is living up to its reputation by increasing the capacity of krill produced on board, thanks to its efficient nature and the fact that it was made-to-order with krill harvesting top of mind. With this vessel’s state-of- the art technology, onboard processing plant, and a cargo hold that can accommodate 3,150 tonnes of processed krill, more customers can be served with an ample supply of sustainably-harvested krill than ever before.
Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility
It’s important to emphasize that sustainability in Aker BioMarine isn’t the job of the Sustainability team alone. It’s the responsibility of each and every employee, from members of the crew to the CEO. We are fortunate as a company to work with a product that is sustainable in its essence, as it’s one of the most abundant species on the planet, securely seated at the bottom of the food chain. But there is always work to be done. The company is now entering an ambitious growth phase, which makes it more important than ever for Aker BioMarine to continue its company-wide approach to improving its operations, influencing the entire value chain, and supporting sustainable change across the entire industry.