As a prey species, krill are fundamental components of the larger ecosystem, both feeding on smaller organisms and acting as the food source for a wealth of other predators.
Protecting prey species is fundamental in order to secure the long-term sustainability of ocean ecosystems and fisheries.
Oceana believes the following critical steps need to be taken immediately to protect prey:
No new fisheries for prey
Strictly prohibiting the establishment of new fisheries for prey is the most conservative approach to protecting prey. The banning of new prey fisheries safeguards against potential ecosystem collapses that could arise through overfishing.
Set conservative limits for prey fisheries
In cases where fisheries already exist, setting conservative catch limits is an important step toward ecosystem-based management. Conservative catch limits allow populations to recover to sustainable levels and can help account for potential losses due to climate change or other threats.
Protect breeding hotspots
Temporary closures of specific areas known to be important breeding, foraging and nursing areas for predators would enable them to obtain the food required to perform such activities.
By limiting competition with fishing vessels, predators would have increased prey resources, which would increase reproductive success as a result. In addition, temporary closures could dramatically reduce the amount of bycatch and other forms of incidental mortality to predators.
Prioritize uses for prey
When setting conservative catch levels, managers should specifically keep the needs of the entire ecosystem in mind. This includes allocating a portion of prey resources to predators prior to setting catch limits for fisheries. Fish caught should also be used primarily for direct consumption, rather than as a fuel for aquaculture, to maximize efficiency.