Many animals, including penguins, seals and whales, depend on krill, which is a keystone species in the Antarctic food web. The deal includes buffer zones around breeding colonies of penguins.
Following the agreement, retailers released an industry statement of commitment, which has been signed by the British Retail Consortium, Aldi, Asda, Boots, the Cooperative Group, Holland & Barrett, Lidl, M&S, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose.
Suppliers making the commitment represent 85% of the krill fishing industry in the Antarctic and are all members of ARK. Signatories include Aker BioMarine, CNFC, Insung, Pescachile and Rimfrost.
‘We want to go further’
Leading retailers, led by the British Retail Consortium, and suppliers under the Association of Responsible Krill harvesting companies (ARK), have also pledged to support the scientific and political process for the creation of a network of large-scale marine protected areas in the Antarctic, including areas in which fishing companies currently operate.
“This will make a real difference to the protection of Antarctic waters and wildlife. Retailers have worked closely with suppliers like Aker BioMarine as well as Greenpeace to ensure the region and its wildlife will now be better protected,” Peter Andrews, Head of Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium said.
“Our members recognise their responsibilities in protecting the marine environment and have set out a clear statement of commitment to safeguard vital areas of the Antarctic Ocean and its ecosystem now and in future.
“But we want to go further and enshrine this protection with the establishment of a network of marine protected areas.”
Pressure mounts to protect Antarctic
Louisa Casson, of Greenpeace's Protect the Antarctic campaign, welcomed the move and added that there has been an uptick in calls for the region’s marine environment to be protected.
"It's great that British retailers are responding to the wave of public support for ocean protection by backing ocean sanctuaries in the Antarctic and upholding the precautionary approach with their suppliers when it comes to krill products. Their voice is a welcome addition, alongside 1.7 million people globally, scientists, politicians, and now even the majority of the krill fishing industry, to the growing calls for protecting for Antarctic this year."