Antarctic krill may only be six centimetres in length, but Aker BioMarine believes they are the small solution needed for big challenges in the aquaculture, nutraceutical, and animal feed.
Bigger isn’t always better. Look no further than Antarctic krill for proof. The crustaceans are roughly the size of a paperclip but contain several health benefits that can do everything from improving aquaculture efficiency to helping people live healthier. For Aker BioMarine, the key is sharing these benefits with the world in a sustainable manner. Despite Antarctic krill being among the most abundant marine biomasses on the planet, the company has been extremely diligent in maintaining the ecosystem, including harvesting well below quota limits.
“Since day one, we have been dedicated to improving human and planetary health, and many years later, our business continues to grow because we take care of the ecosystem we harvest in,” Mr Chaiyot Rawekchom, Aker BioMarine Sales Director Southeast Asia, proclaims. “Our daily responsibility is to improve people’s health without compromising the health of our planet and its oceans.” These aren’t simply empty words or part of a marketing campaign. Aker BioMarine has actively pursued sustainability even before deploying its first midwater trawl in the Southern Ocean. Mr Chaiyot points to a dialogue the company had with WWF-Norway before fishing as an example of just how far it goes to ensure operations have a low impact on the Antarctic ecosystem.
“We own and operate our entire value chain from catch to product, so traceability and transparency are imperative to our business. Our integrity and standards are helping to raise the bar in the industry,” Mr Chaiyot states. “Harvesting of Antarctic krill is closely managed, monitored, and regulated. In fact, we have independent observers stationed onboard our krill harvesting vessels in Antarctic waters. The observers provide transparent and detailed reporting of catch volumes and vessel positions to the relevant authorities.”
Two years ago, Aker BioMarine worked in close collaboration with leading industry and science figures to carry out a multinational large-scale biomass survey. Those results established the size of the biomass which ensured accurate allowable krill catch limits. Currently, less than one percent of the stock biomass can be fished with more than 99 percent set aside for krill feeding predators. This is one of many guardrails put in place. “It’s important to share that we harvest well below the quota limits. In fact, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) uses a precautionary, ecosystem-based approach designed to prevent krill harvesting that will have a negative impact on a harvested species or other species in the ecosystem,” Mr Chaiyot says. “All of our catches are reported to CCAMLR and harvesting is restricted to a specific region of the Southern Ocean called Area 48. The management of the fishery is robust as the consensus of 25 governments is needed to change any of the fishery regulations in the Antarctic.”
These sustainability efforts have been recognised by leading agencies. Aker BioMarine’s Antarctic krill fishery received an “A” rating for its well-managed fishery from the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) along with its third consecutive certification with no conditions from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2020. Additionally, Aker BioMarine has signed off on eight sustainability commitments that it will achieve by 2030. These include reducing its carbon intensity per ton of krill produced by 50 percent from 2020 levels, ensuring full circularity on all of its principal waste streams, and decarbonising aqua and animal feed by delivering low-carbon marine ingredients. “Sustainability is an evolving and growing topic among consumers and businesses today, and as the global demand for environmentally friendly products continues to rise, sustainability should remain core to any business. At Aker BioMarine, we believe that this is the only way to create long-term value,” Mr Chaiyot states.
The Small Solution
The QRILL Aqua product range from Aker BioMarine can be beneficial to the aquaculture industry as it can reduce expenses and enhance growth. This, along with the aforementioned sustainable approach, makes it a possible solution to the obstacles farmers currently face. “Krill offers a ‘small’ solution to a big challenge. Krill meal has a rich protein and amino acid nutritional profile, on par with that of fish. It includes high levels of long-chain fatty acids, feed attractants, and astaxanthin, which stimulate fish feeding behaviour. Krill meal is, therefore, a powerful supplement to low fishmeal diets,” Mr Chaiyot notes. He continues, “Aside from enhancing fish growth and performance, krill meal supplementation has several proven benefits for aquaculture as it also promotes hepatic health. The amino acid composition of krill protein is very similar to that of fishmeal. This generally results in increased feed intake, as reported in different studies documenting a stimulatory effect of different krill products on the appetite of several fish species.”
Krill meal has been in use for more than a decade and has proven to be successful when it comes to farmed fish and shrimp around the world, including those earmarked for export. Using QRILL Aqua, for example, is helpful in meeting international standards. “Krill helps benefit optimal growth and survival in farmed fish and shrimp. It also aids in the prevention of skeletal deformities and helps with stress resistance. Other associated cost benefits are possible by using QRILL Aqua instead of other feed options,” Mr Chaiyot details.
The interest for krill-based ingredients for nutraceutical and animal feed applications has increased steadily in recent years. Studies have focused on the better understanding of health and growth performance benefits of the various nutrients of Antarctic krill (Euphausia Superba) across different species including human, dog, chicken, rodent, fish, and shrimp. Depending on the application and product used, benefits can be attributed to krill amino acids, long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, phospholipids, choline, astaxanthin, chitin, nucleotides, minerals, and vitamins. Clinical studies in humans have shown that krill oil can positively influence a wide range of health conditions and the dietary inclusion of krill meal increased feed efficiency, growth, fillet quality, and health of farmed fish and crustaceans, as well as improved nutrient composition and myopathies in fillet of broiler chicken.
Potential of Southeast Asia
Aker BioMarine opened a regional office in Thailand in 2018 as it looked to serve the local market and Southeast Asia as a whole. With the aquaculture sector experiencing double-digit growth in recent years, the company saw a chance to make a positive impact. “Southeast Asia has huge market potential with nearly 700 million people and a fast-growing GDP and technology sector. Agricultural and aquaculture are important industries in this market. For example, the shrimp market is very important in Southeast Asia as Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand are the main global major shrimp exporters with their entire value chain and support from their respective governments,” Mr Chaiyot reports. “With our main product, QRILL Aqua, farmers can improve aquaculture efficiency in a sustainable way. The main benefits to aquaculture are increasing the palatability of shrimp and fish feed as well as improving immune status, quality of meat and feed conversion ratio.”
The company currently has active sales in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan with these local efforts linking up with offices in Shanghai and Mumbai to provide a strong regional presence and customer support. With different markets having unique requirements, this approach allows Aker BioMarine to better understand the needs of each. “Aker BioMarine is the global leader in the krill industry, however, we rely on the support of the local presence with our office and logistic hub and our people on the ground. The local support can help us better understand local customers’ needs, allowing us to build up the relationships and business in Thailand. Once we know and understand what the customer is looking for, we can deliver the solutions and services to them properly,” Mr Chaiyot says.
While Antarctic krill may be small in stature, they provide solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the aquaculture industry in the region. For Aker BioMarine, the end goal isn’t simply to sell a product but to help them overcome those obstacles and ultimately be more successful. “We are committed to innovation, which has been with the company from day one. It also drives our future for tomorrow. We are more than a supplier to our customers. We challenge the status quo and think outside of the box,” Mr Chaiyot states. “We take pride in not only understanding our customer’s needs but working with them to find success. Customer centricity is at our core and our goal is to help our customers in Thailand and Southeast Asia stand out in the marketplace by sharing our global product expertise and market insights.”
- In 2018, Aker BioMarine opened a regional office in Thailand
- Active sales are ongoing in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan
- Aker BioMarine currently makes products for the aquaculture, nutraceutical, and animal feed sectors
- The entire value chain, from catch to product, is owned and operated by the company
- Aker BioMarine was the first krill company to hold Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification
- The company announced eight sustainability commitments that it will achieve by 2030
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