Krill: This Useful Crustacean May Save the World from Hunger

Posted on April 20th, 2012 by author  |  4 Comments »

krillA United Nations (UN) report predicted that worldwide starvation is imminent in the year 2050, especially if people do not change the way they eat. However, some say that there may be a practical solution to this forthcoming problem: krill.

Krill are small, shrimp-like crustacean that live in pristine ocean waters. They are packed with nutrients and are a rich source of high-quality protein and omega-3 fats. Krill make up the largest biomass on Earth, and because they are an endless renewable source of protein, experts believe that they may be the solution to help stop or prevent world hunger.

The Daily Beast reports:

“These benefits, along with sky-high antioxidant levels, have earned krill the nickname the ‘magicians’ of the ocean.

Meanwhile, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization notes that as other food resources shrink, ‘there will be greater emphasis on harvesting species such as krill’ and that ‘developments in food technology may result in more rapid cost-effective forms of krill for human consumption.'” (link)

However, many people claim that overharvesting krill, which is at the bottom of the food chain, may have severe effects on wildlife. But these concerns are unfounded – there are measures that prevent over harvesting krill and ensure sustainability.

Dr. Joseph Mercola comments: “Could turning krill into a staple in the human diet deal a devastating blow to the rest of the food chain? If I thought this was true, my conscience would not allow me to promote krill. But based on the evidence, the chance of over harvesting krill is extremely slim, even if harvesting was increased rather dramatically. There’s a very big margin built into the current regulations.”

There is No Danger of Overharvesting Krill

Krill exists in almost all oceans, but it is most abundant in the Antarctic. There are about 85 species of krill. Euphausia superba, found in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica, is the one harvested for human consumption.

Krill is the largest biomass in the world; there are more krill on the planet than any other organism. This is why there is no danger of overharvesting krill anytime soon. There have been instances where krill catch decreased, but those instances were due to economic factors. For example, in 1992, many krill fisheries shifted to finfish fisheries. The break-up of the Soviet Union, which dominated the krill fishing industry, also affected the decline in krill availability. In 1998, krill catch also declined because of the economic crisis in Asia.

“Krill harvesting is one of the best regulated on the planet, using strict international precautionary catch limit regulations that are reviewed regularly to assure sustainability,” explains Dr. Mercola.

Today, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) oversees the maintenance of Antarctic krill biomass and regulates krill harvesting of 25 countries. CCAMLR is the only official international organization involved in the management and monitoring of krill fishery. They have not forecasted any shortage of krill.

The CCAMLR implemented a strict, precautionary approach to help assure sustainability and minimize risks associated with krill harvesting practices. “It’s an ‘ecosystem approach,’ meaning it takes into account ecological links between different species and natural variability, such as the natural, cyclical rise and fall in reproduction of a species, for example,” says Dr. Mercola.

The precautionary catch limit set by the CCAML in 2008 was only 6.6 million tons. This is a very small fraction, considering that Antarctic krill biomass range between 170 million to 740 million tons, with an average of 420 million tons.

From 2002 to 2007, the mean annual catch rate of krill was less than 120,000 tons a year – that’s less than two percent of the precautionary catch limit! This proves that harvesting does not pose a threat to whales and other organisms that feed on krill.

Krill Oil: The Best Way to Get the Benefits of Krill

Krill is a very nutritious organism. A 2007 study published in Nutrition Reviews says:

“Krill is a rich source of high-quality protein, with the advantage over other animal proteins of being low in fat and a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidant levels in krill are higher than in fish, suggesting benefits against oxidative damage. Finally, the waste generated by the processing of krill into edible products can be developed into value-added products.” (link)

Even though countries like Russia, Japan, and Korea already consider krill a staple in their diet, many people are still not familiar with this useful crustacean. For example, in the US, the only establishment that serves krill is Eon Café in Hayward, California. They use the crustacean in their salad, sandwiches, and wraps, saying that it’s like “a tiny shrimp without much flavor.”

Dr. Mercola says that if it is difficult for you to consume whole krill, your next best option is to take a krill oil supplement.* “In my view, krill oil is by far your best option when it comes to obtaining the important high-quality animal based omega-3 fats you and your family needs,*” he advises.

Krill oil is rich in:

  • Essential EPA and DHA fatty acids. Krill oil’s double chain phospholipid structure makes these essential fatty acids 10 to 15 times more absorbable than the omega-3s in fish oil.*
  • Vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin D.*
  • Astaxanthin. A potent carotenoid antioxidant, astaxanthin effectively reduces free radicals in your body better than beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, lycopene, and lutein. Krill oil’s antioxidant potency is said to be 48 times higher than fish oil in terms of ORAC values.* Astaxanthin also protects your cells, organs and body tissues from oxidative damage, and prevents the krill oil from becoming rancid inside your body.*

Unlike fish oil and other seafood that may be tainted with mercury, krill oil puts you at a very minimal risk of mercury contamination. This is because krill are so small that they don’t have the chance to accumulate toxins before being harvested.


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Responses to “Krill: This Useful Crustacean May Save the World from Hunger”

  1. Colin in Laupahoehoe says on :

    Interesting article. Krill should appeal to a lot more people than crickets and bugs (the ‘other’ endless protein source). On the other hand they sound rather bland … “a tiny shrimp without much flavor.”

  2. Paul Sharp says on :

    This seems to be an advertorial for Krill products..
    What species are caught as bycatch in Krill fishing?
    Also what dangers do factory ships operating deep in the Antarctic pose to that fragile ecosystem?
    If we want to seriously address world hunger krill is not the answer. A global adoption of vegetarian diets would allow enough food for all.

  3. crill oil says on :

    I prefer fish oil and I think it’s much more safe. Krill oil effects are unpredictable

  4. Pauletta Stickfort says on :

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