The Volkskrant reported this weekend that Dutch trawler operators have got their eyes on a new market. At least one company wants to use its massive freezer-ships for catching krill, the microscopic shrimp which live in the seas around Antarctica in huge numbers.
Krill is the staple food of penguins, whales, seals and various birds. And it is also, say some, the perfect food for the aquaculture sector – fish farming – which is faced with a shortage of fish meal.
Fish farming is seen by many as the answer to the overfishing of our seas – in fact almost half the fish eaten in the world today is farmed. But what many people don’t realise is that the fish which is raised either in big tanks on land or in nets in lakes and seas, are themselves fed on fish.
So fish which we humans don’t particularly like to eat is being caught, turned into fish meal and then fed to fish we do like to eat. So much so that even unpopular fish stocks are under threat.
Ecologists don’t think fishing for krill is a very sensible thing to do, arguing that it could threaten the delicate ecological balance in the region. So will the Netherlands take a stand?
A Dutch fishing ministry spokesman told the paper it was simply a matter of time before the licence to harvest krill is handed out. Better the well-regulated Dutch industry than unlicenced pirates, he said, pragmatically.
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