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Eco-Harvesting (or Aker Eco-Harvesting) is a trademark and brand named coined by Aker BioMarine, an Oslo, Norway-based biotechnology company, for a proprietary method for gathering and processing krill, and for products containing krill gathered by that method. The process was developed with assistance from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-Norway).
The Eco-Harvesting gathering method employs a continuous mid-water/pelagic trawl system that is guarded by a fine mesh net, which prevents anything larger than krill from entering. Underwater cameras monitor the system. Rather than heaving a trawl to get the catch on board, a conveyor hose is attached to the end of the net, which remains underwater throughout the entire operation. A continuous stream of water flows through the hose, bringing the live krill directly into the ship. Supply vessels offload products, bring fuel and replace the crew of the fishing grounds. The products are shipped to a hub in South America, and then distributed to the global market. Aker's fishing vessels feature a processing plant that transforms the entire content of the catch into meal. Historically, retrieving the innumerable krill in the Antarctic waters has been difficult, because of the krill’s delicate nature. Once a krill dies, its powerful digestive enzymes quickly break down the body tissue, rendering it useless before processing.
Unwanted by-catch can be practically—and humanely—eliminated. At the same time, a previously unprofitable and unwanted species can be turned into food resources. The Eco-Harvesting krill retrieval method has also been credited with reducing illegal fishing and facilitating scientific documentation of the krill fishery.
The toxin-free krill are ideally suited for aquaculture feed and as a natural coloring agent for fish. Krill oil is equally rich in antioxidants (especially astaxanthin), phospholipids, and omega-3 fatty acids, with a long list of applications in supplements and functional foods.