Retailers in the UK under fire for selling krill-based products

| 9th April 2018

Greenpeace volunteers in Portsmouth carry out activities targeting Boots for its sales of krill oil, calling on the retailer to make sure no krill is fished in Antarctic waters that governments have earmarked for protection.

Krill is one of the most important species in the Antarctic food web but Greenpeace says stocks are being plundered to be used in products such as krill oil and Omega-3 tablets which are sold on the shelves of some of the UK's biggest retailers. CATHERINE HARTE reports

Boots’ stated mission is to be the UK’s most socially responsible retailer in the health and beauty market. 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?

Boots the chemist has come under fire from the environmental charity Greenpeace for selling krill-based products which the charity says threatens Antarctic wildlife.

Krill oil is sold as a health supplement in a number of retail outlets in the UK and is derived from the small crustaceans which are an essential food source for penguins, whales and other Antarctic wildlife.

Health food store Holland and Barrett recently announced that it is taking all krill products off its shelves and Greenpeace is urging Boots and other stockists  to do the same. 

Socially irresponsible

Louisa Casson, a Protect the Antarctic campaigner at Greenpeace UK, 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.

"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."

Antarctic waters

Greenpeace says Boots krill oil products are sourced from vessels tracked fishing in the immediate vicinity of penguin colonies and whale foraging grounds, putting a major food source for these animals at risk.

A spokesperson for Boots UK  told The Ecologist: “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.

Biggest stockist

"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.

They added: "There is ongoing discussion around further regulation of Antarctic waters and we are engaging with NGOs, including the Marine Stewardship Council, to ensure that the krill population remains sustainable.

"We welcome a conversation with Greenpeace on how we further our common objective of delivering sustainable oceans.”

Tesco was named as the third biggest stockist of krill-based products in Greenpeace’s survey. They declined to comment for this article. Morrisons, who at the time of writing sell the Bioglan Red Krill online, said they would be stopping selling this product in the coming days.

This Author

Catherine Harte is a contributing editor to The Ecologist.

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