Greenpeace campaigners are calling on high-street retailers to abandon krill-based health products, claiming they endanger the Antarctic ecosystem.
Krill oil is sold as a health supplement in a number of retail outlets in the UK and is derived from small crustaceans, which are an essential food source for penguins, whales and other Antarctic wildlife.
Greenpeace UK ‘Protect the Antarctic’ campaigner Louisa Casson said: “The public mood is clear: almost two-thirds of Brits think retailers shouldn’t be stocking krill products fished from Antarctic waters being considered for protection.”
A YouGov survey commissioned by Greenpeace found that two-thirds of British people believe retailers should not be stocking krill products fished in areas being considered for protection in the Antarctic Ocean and almost 9 in 10 support the creating of a vast Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, which would put these waters off-limits to krill fishing.
Holland and Barrett pledged to remove all krill-based products from its stores after being warned that they are ‘stealing food from penguins’.
Holland and Barrett chief executive Peter Aldis said: “Protecting the oceans is important to us, which is why we were the first retailer to offer a beauty range that is completely microplastics free before it became law.
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“We have therefore decided today to remove all krill-based products from sale over the next few weeks.”
Holland and Barrett has confirmed it is replacing its krill-based supplements with algal oils.
Following this, Greenpeace called for Boots to follow in the health retailer’s footsteps.
Casson said: “Boots’ stated mission is to be the UK’s most socially-responsible retailer in the health and beauty market. But the question has to be asked—how can customers trust Boots when it’s profiting from a fishing industry which is threatening the health of Antarctic wildlife like penguins, seals and whales?
“Other shops are doing the right thing and taking krill products off the shelves: it’s time for Boots to stop taking advantage of the Antarctic.”
According to Greenpeace, krill oil products stocked at Boots are sourced from vessels fishing in areas of the Antarctic identified by scientists as needing protection, including around the Antarctic Peninsula.
A Boots spokesperson commented: “Caring for the environment has always been an integral part of our brand. Boots UK develops, manufactures and sells an extensive range of health and beauty products using a global network of suppliers.
“It is of the highest importance to us that these products are sourced sustainably and we only sell products containing certified sustainable krill. The Marine Stewardship Council has stated that its krill products come from a certified fishery that is subject to yearly checks by independent inspectors.
“We are committed to traceability and transparency and support the continued collection of data to support the up-to-date understanding of the krill stock.
Boots is reportedly in ongoing discussions with Greenpeace around regulation of Antarctic waters, and engaging with NGOs, including the Marine Stewardship Council, to ensure that the krill population remains sustainable.
Boots added: “We welcome a conversation with Greenpeace on how we further our common objective of delivering sustainable oceans.”
Greenpeace has named Tesco as the third biggest stockist of krill-based products in its survey while Morrison’s has committed to stopping selling krill products in the coming days.