Krill fisheries: Development, management and ecosystem implications

Stephen Nicol, Yoshinari Endo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


There are currently at least six commercial fisheries harvesting six different species of euphausiid, or krill: Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), fished in the Antarctic; North Pacific krill (Euphausia pacifica), fished off Japan and off western Canada; Euphausia nana, fished off the coast of Japan; Thysanoessa inermis, fished off the coast of Japan and off eastern Canada; and Thysanoessa raschii and Meganyctiphanes norvegica which have been experimentally harvested off eastern Canada. The current world catch of all species of krill is over 150 000 tonnes per annum but few fisheries are being exploited to their maximum theoretical potential. The size of the world krill harvest is currently limited by lack of demand, although some fisheries are being deliberately managed at low levels because of ecological concerns. We have outlined the history of these krill fisheries to determine where there are common trends and issues which will affect their future development. Krill products are currently mostly used for the aquaculture and sport fishing market but considerable effort has also been put into developing products for human consumption, particularly from Antarctic krill. The future development of krill fisheries is examined in the light of information on trends in krill products which include pharmaceutical and industrial uses in addition to nutritional products. Because of the central ecological role of krill in many marine ecosystems, the subject of krill harvesting is a sensitive issue and krill fisheries require careful management. This requirement has spawned an innovative international management regime in the Antarctic - the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) - which has developed procedures for managing the harvest of Antarctic krill that may be applicable to other fisheries. The common problems of managing krill fisheries are outlined particularly those relating to the role of krill in many coastal ecosystems, and as prey for many other species which are commercially fished.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-120
Number of pages16
JournalAquatic Living Resources
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Jan 1


  • Ecosystem management
  • Euphausiid
  • Fisheries
  • Krill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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