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Proposal for SCAR Krill Expert Group, 2022 Popular

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Proposal for SCAR Krill Expert Group, 2022

Proposal for a SCAR Krill Expert Group

Expert Group of the Life Sciences Group

Name(s) of the lead proponents: Prof. Dr. Bettina Meyer, Dr. So Kawaguchi, Dr. Simeon Hill, Dr. Angus Atkinson, Prof. Dr. Kim Bernard, Dr. Ryan Driscoll, Dr. Zephyr Sylvester, Dr. Javier Arata and Dr. Steve Parker


Recent findings on Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, the central prey in the Southern Ocean food web, have demonstrated that even after almost 100 years of research on this species, there remain crucial gaps in our understanding of its life history, response to climate variability, spatial population dynamics, and the environmental mechanisms that drive its life cycle throughout the Southern Ocean. Increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources in the 1970s followed over-exploitation of other marine resources in the Southern Ocean. Concerns about the potential ecosystem impacts of krill fishing led to the establishment of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), an international organization responsible for managing Southern Ocean fisheries and conservation of the wider ecosystem that depends on fished species. The krill fishery grew rapidly in the 1980s and remains responsible for over 90% of the fishery catch in the Southern Ocean. Historically CCAMLR has received scientific advice on Antarctic krill only from the official delegations of CCAMLR member countries, representing a small subset of the overall community of krill researchers. CCAMLR’s Scientific Committee has emphasized the need for a mechanism to better incorporate the results of relevant krill research into fishery management decisions. Thus, the SCAR Krill Action Group (SKAG) was initiated in 2018 to become a prime conduit between CCAMLR and the wider krill science community in SCAR and beyond.

SKAG now provides a forum to (1) guide the direction of krill-related research; (2) promote international collaboration among both senior krill scientists and early career researchers (ECRs); (3) improve understanding of krill biology and ecology; (4) serve as a conduit between scientists and the krill fishing industry; and (5) through the SCAR Standing Committee on the Antarctic Treaty System, assist in providing critical scientific information to CCAMLR that are relevant to krill fishery management. Furthermore, the group provides a forum for information exchange on upcoming cruises and funding opportunities, including fishing vessels, as well as lab facilities for experimental krill work, and serves as a platform for the development of future international collaborative research proposals and programs. Since 2020, SKAG has cemented its position as a voice of Antarctic krill researchers. Through publications, reports, website and well-attended annual workshops, SKAG has developed into the central node for transferring relevant krill science to CCAMLR and other organisations, such as the newly established Science-Industry Forum (SIF) and Non-Governmental Organisations ( NGOs) like the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) and the Pew Charitable Trust (PEW). In addition, SKAG is well integrated with the existing SCAR group “Integrating Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Southern Ocean” (ICED). SKAG’s joint workshops and papers have greatly enhanced the opportunities for ECRs to connect with peers and experts internationally and to nurture collaboration. We are currently at a crucial juncture in the management of the krill fishery. As the climate warms and the krill fishery continues to develop, CCAMLR is developing a new krill management approach that relies heavily on new survey and life history information. The role of SKAG in providing policy-relevant information on krill and in serving as a conduit for collaboration is a key legacy that we wish to continue. We, therefore, propose that SKAG becomes a SCAR Krill Expert Group (SKEG) in 2023 for an initial period of 6 years. An application is submitted to the heads of the Life Science Group.