Greenpeace welcomes Holland and Barrett dropping krill products to protect Antarctic

By agency reporter
March 26, 2018

Just days after Greenpeace accused retailer Holland and Barrett of stocking products which threaten wildlife in the Antarctic, the international health food chain has committed to remove all krill products from its shelves within weeks. Krill is a small crustacean which is one of the most important species in the Antarctic food web: an essential food source for penguins, whales and seals.

On 23 March 2018, Peter Aldis, Holland and Barrett International CEO said: “…like many of our customers, we very much share the concerns outlined in this important Greenpeace report this week. 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.  We have therefore decided today to remove all krill-based products from sale over the next few weeks.”

Responding, Louisa Casson of Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign, said, “In just over 24 hours, 45,000 people emailed Holland and Barrett’s CEO asking him to stop stocking krill oil products fished in Antarctic waters that need protection. It’s welcome news that they’ve recognised the public’s strength of feeling and heeded that call.

“Holland and Barrett have previously been ahead of the curve in protecting our oceans, including tackling microplastic pollution, so it’s great to see them doing the responsible thing when it comes to safeguarding the food for whales, seals and penguins.

“Almost two-thirds of Brits think retailers shouldn’t be stocking krill products fished in areas being considered for protection in the Antarctic Ocean. And almost nine in 10 support the creation of a vast Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, which would put these sensitive waters off-limits to krill fishing. While the krill industry is projecting rapid growth over the next few years, that’s clearly out of step with what the British public want: they want to protect Antarctic wildlife.

“This is a major boost for proposals to protect the Antarctic this year. Other retailers still selling krill products fished in Antarctic waters earmarked for protection need to take action now.”

A YouGov survey, commissioned by Greenpeace, revealed that almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of the British public think retailers shouldn’t be stocking krill products fished in areas being considered for protection in the Antarctic Ocean.

Holland and Barrett’s CEO received over 45,000 emails on the issue in just over 24 hours, while stores across the UK saw krill products labelled with information about their impact on the Antarctic.

The survey also showed that almost nine out of 10 people (87 per cent) in Britain support the creation of a vast Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, which would be the biggest protected area on Earth, with only three per cent opposed. Governments will this year decide whether to create this 1.8 million square kilometre ocean sanctuary, which would put the area off-limits to fishing in a key area for expansion for the krill industry. 275,000 people in the UK have already backed Greenpeace’s campaign for the Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, with over one million signatures globally.

The expansion of krill fishing is being driven in part by the industry’s projections for global demand for krill oil health supplements. The UK is the fourth largest market for krill oil globally, with the industry targeting annual growth rates of 11 per cent to 2021, yet according to the YouGov survey 83 per cent of Brits never buy omega-3 capsules made of krill oil. Seven in 10 Brits say they are unlikely to buy krill oil capsules in future – compared to just over one in 10 (12 per cent) likely to do so.

A recent Greenpeace International investigation revealed that intensive fishing – including near existing and proposed protected areas – creates competition for food with penguins and whales, and threatens pristine Antarctic waters with potentially devastating fuel spills and fires. When told about pros and cons of krill oil omega-3 capsules, nearly half of people surveyed (48 per cent) were more likely to buy a krill-free omega-3 health supplement over a krill-derived supplement – six times the percentage of people who would buy a krill product over a krill-free alternative (eight per cent).

Greenpeace is calling on the krill fishing industry to step up to its responsibility to safeguard Antarctic waters and wildlife, and stop fishing in any areas being considered for protection, as well as to back proposals for ocean sanctuaries in the Antarctic.

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is currently on a three-month expedition to the Antarctic, undertaking landmark scientific research  and raising awareness of the need for marine protection in the Antarctic, as part of a campaign to create a network of ocean sanctuaries covering at least 30 per cent of the world’s oceans by 2030.

* Read Licence to Krill: the little-known world of Antarctic fishing here

* Greenpeace UK


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