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In Antarctica, harvesters catch krill with extra loads of ...

World

In Antarctica, harvesters catch krill with extra loads of unintended kill

Trawlers target the same foraging grounds as fur seals, humpback whales and blue whales, which get entangled in nets

Gloria Dickie

A humpback whale, likely lured by a trawling net capturing masses of Antarctic krill, became entangled last month and died in the Southern Ocean. Three dead juveniles were caught in the same company’s krill nets last year.

Scientists say the humpbacks may have been malnourished while forced to compete for food with a burgeoning industry harvesting the tiny crustaceans — the linchpin in the Antarctic food web — for use in pharmaceuticals and fish feed.

The fishing company, Norway’s Aker BioMarine, said these were its first cases of whale by-catch in 15 years of harvesting krill in Antarctica, and that it has since reinforced its ships’ devices for keeping marine mammals out of its nets...

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