Antarctic krill is one of the keystone species of the Southern Ocean. Crustaceans, about the size of a paperclip, they rely on sea ice for feeding off of phytoplankton during the dark winters of the south. Whales, penguins, and many fish and bird species depend on krill as their main food source.
In the Antarctic, apart from climate change impacting populations, humans have been exploiting this resource with industrial scale fishing (krill trawling). Although there are quotas, ships have become more efficient at collecting the maximum in minimum time and populations of krill are dwindling which means entire ecosystems can collapse. Everything in the Southern Ocean relies on krill. To put in perspective, krill trawling nets can measure to be about 63 meters long (206 feet). A blue whale is 25 meters long (82 feet). In other words, a trawling net capturing one of the tiniest creatures in the ocean can be almost 3 blue whales long. That capture of krill in just one swoop of one vessel is just the tip of the iceberg.
Why are we fishing out krill from the oceans? Humans have recently jumped on the krill bandwagon to fight disease. If you want health benefits, eat healthy. We take more supplements yearly yet cardiovascular disease is on the rise. Why? This has to do with poor diet that a krill pill cannot supplement.
CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) was established to regulate krill fisheries and harvest quotas but more countries are showing interest in expanding their fisheries into the Antarctic regions. Yes, there is a precautionary catch limit but it is still impacting the wildlife in the regions. Krill fisheries and other fisheries need to be managed more vigilantly. As our demand for fish increases, the wild populations of fish everywhere are on the decline.