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Originally published July 20 2009

NOAA Bans Krill Harvesting in Pacific Ocean to Save Food for Whales

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

(NaturalNews) In order to help protect the food supply of whales, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced a ban on krill harvesting in a wide section of the Pacific Ocean off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California. The effort is part of NOAA's longstanding attempts to protect the delicate food supply of marine mammals.

As the Associated Press reported last week, "Krill are taken primarily off Antarctica, where scientists have raised concerns the fishery has upset the food web, making life tougher for penguins and other marine life. The catch is processed into food for salmon farms, as well as home aquariums, and an oil consumed by people." (Krill oil.)

NaturalNews has joined prominent marine biologists in raising concern about the ongoing harvesting of krill for fish farms and krill oil nutritional supplements. In April of this year, we conducted a phone interview with Dr. Boris Worm, a world-renowned marine biologist, who voiced his concern about krill harvesting. The highlights of that interview are available here:

The full, downloadable MP3 audio of the interview with Dr. Worm is available here:

And the full text of the interview is here:

In that interview, Dr. Worm echoes what the NOAA is now openly stating about krill. As AP reports:

"The idea to save krill for marine life originally came from managers of the national marine sanctuaries off California, who became concerned in 2003 after rockfish populations declined, and later in 2005 when a downturn in krill populations was blamed for starving sea birds and other West Coast marine life."

"Krill is a critical prey for a huge number of vertebrate species there," including whales, salmon and rockfish, said William Douros, NOAA's West Coast regional director of marine sanctuaries.

Why we must save the krill

Protecting krill is crucial for the long-term viability of other species that depend on it for food (whales, notably). The highly nutritious nature of krill is precisely what makes it so important to the marine food web -- its rich omega-3 oils are vital for the dietary needs of whales, penguins and other marine predators.

As NaturalNews has reported, the most eco-conscious choice for marine omega-3 oils is green-lipped mussel oil from aquatic farms that are not fed anything other than the natural phytoplankton circulating in the water. The difference between "good" fish farms and "bad" fish farms is found in how they feed their fish: If other fish (or krill) have to be caught, processed and fed to the larger fish in an aquatic fishery, then that's highly destructive to the larger food chain (and many salmon farms fall into this category). But if the aquaculture farms inject no food whatsoever into the fish populations, and they feed only on the naturally-circulating low-level food sources in the ocean waters, then it's a "good" aquaculture farm. (Such is the case with green-lipped mussels farmed off the coast of New Zealand.)

Another important point to keep in mind with marine omega-3 sources is whether the source is wildcrafted (taken out of the open ocean) or aquacultured (grown in aquatic farms). In the ocean, wildcrafted harvesting disrupts the natural food web, depleting food supplies of animals that depend on the ready availability of that particular food source. That's why responsibly-farmed sources of fish or marine oils are far more ecologically conscious. There is currently no such thing as an aquaculture krill farm. All krill oil sold in nutritional supplements is harvested out of the open ocean.

This article is not opinion, by the way: These are all factual statements that are widely accepted across the global community of marine scientists. This article is in no way intended to disparage individuals or companies that currently promote krill oil; rather, it is intended to increase consumer awareness about the real source of marine-based nutritional supplements and how such sourcing may impact the web of life on our planet. Ultimately, it's about educating consumers. Because a nutritional supplement is much more than just a collection of its benefits: It's about where it comes from and the ecological impacts of its harvesting.

NaturalNews has taken part in that education effort by donating over $5,000 in advertising space to (already completed), and in publicizing important news about sea turtles, ocean water temperatures, ocean acidification, coral reef bleaching and other similar topics. As I've stated before here on NaturalNews, our survival depends on the collective survival of the species in our world's oceans. If you kill the oceans, you eventually destroy yourself.

The overfishing of our oceans is an enormous, global problem, and that's why I'm glad to see the NOAA taking these important steps in banning krill harvesting off the West Coast of America -- a move that will help protect the viability of the Pacific Ocean for generations to come.

Sources for this story include:

Associated Press:


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