Preserving the Future of Omega-3s

Omega-3s remain one of the largest and most profitable nutritional ingredient categories in the world, but the future of these fatty acids depends on sustainability, says Becky Wright, Marketing Director, Aker BioMarine Antarctic US

Aker BioMarine’s Antarctic krill fishery has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to ensuring the sustainability of its fishing practices

Omega-3s remain one of the largest and most profitable nutritional ingredient categories in the world. Given their popularity and concerns regarding seafood sustainability, the pressure on various marine resources will continue to increase and must be monitored.

Omega-3s are among the most studied nutrients in the world and have gained tremendous credibility for their health benefits. Although the market is meeting current demand for omega-3s, many experts believe that a 'demand outstripping supply' scenario is possible. This already seems to be happening with ingredients such as fish oil. If this is the case, are sustainability concerns being adequately addressed across all omega-3 platforms according to future scenarios? Many experts believe the answer is no. But there is one exception.

The exception

One company taking sustainability very seriously is Aker BioMarine, producer of Superba Krill oil, which provides phospholipid omega-3s EPA and DHA, as well as astasxanthin and choline. It operates in one of the most sustainably managed fisheries in the world.

To date, Aker BioMarine is the only krill harvesting company with MSC certification

In fact, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) just recertified Aker BioMarine’s fishery in January 2015. The recertification process started in 2013 and took 18 months to complete. Aker BioMarine’s new MSC certificate will apply to the fishery for the next five years (2015–2020). The company first went through the MSC certification process in 2009 and has since undergone annual audits. To date, Aker BioMarine is the only krill harvesting company with MSC certification.

Camiel Derichs, Regional Director at MSC said: 'Aker BioMarine’s Antarctic krill fishery has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to ensuring the sustainability of its fishing practices. Its precautionary approach to catch levels, investments in science and research, and actions to reduce bycatch mean that it is now one of the best performing fisheries in the MSC programme. Passing reassessment with no conditions or reconditions is a testament to this.'

Nina Jensen, CEO of World Wildlife Fund-Norway, also commented on this noteworthy achievement. 'As part of its environmental commitment, Aker has made a significant effort to reach out to the rest of the industry to communicate the importance of sustainability,' she said. 'Aker also partners with various scientific entities to conduct important Antarctic ecosystem research. When buying krill oil, we encourage retailers and consumers to ensure that the products they buy and sell are certified by a credible independent third party, such as the MSC.'

Aker has made a significant effort to reach out to the rest of the industry to communicate the importance of sustainability

Comprehensive interviews were done as part of the reassessment process, complemented by a full and thorough review of relevant literature and data sources. Key stakeholders in the fishery, including skippers, scientists, fishery protection officers, non-government organisations, fishery managers and technical support staff, were crucial to the development of this report. Some of the specific stakeholders included WWF-Norway, Greenpeace and the British Antarctic Survey.

'Recently, the Antarctic krill fishery has been under significant scrutiny owing to major misconceptions surrounding sustainability. Therefore, this recertification comes at the perfect time,' said Marte Haabeth Grindaker, Sustainability Manager, Aker BioMarine. 'By working with regulatory authorities, stakeholders and other organisations dedicated to the health of the krill biomass, we can collectively help to demystify misconceptions and show that Aker operates one of the most sustainable fisheries in the world.'

Award for sustainability efforts

Aker BioMarine has worked tirelessly for years to communicate the sustainability of its fishery. Finally, those efforts were recognised in January when the company received Nutrition Business Journal’s Business Achievement award for 'Sustainability'. This is the second NBJ award for the company and the first time an omega-3 company has been recognised in the 'Sustainability' category.

Aker BioMarine has worked tirelessly for years to communicate the sustainability of its fishery

'Sustainability and ethics are often integral to the companies in our industry,' said John Bradley, Editor, NBJ. 'But even in that crowded landscape, Aker stands out for its extensive efforts and deeply held beliefs when it comes to sustainability.'

Since its inception, Aker has been fully committed to the sustainable harvest of krill and operating its fisheries under full transparency. The company has built the most appropriate infrastructure to harvest krill and addresses sustainability on several different fronts, from third party research to environmental partnerships to technological developments.

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