Recent findings on Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) 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 dynamics, and the environmental mechanisms that drive variability of its lifecycle throughout the Southern Ocean). At the 3rd International Krill Symposium (3iks held in St Andrews, UK, in June 2017), it was identified that, despite recent scientific advances in this field, the scientific community and the public still hold onto many outdated perceptions about krill from the 1980s, or earlier. Given multiple changes occurring in Southern Ocean ecosystems, and because of the prominent role of Antarctic krill in the Southern Ocean, it is crucial to highlight the areas where knowledge is lacking, reconsider the current methods used, and develop new approaches to krill research.
The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was established by international convention in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life. The Commission was created in response to increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources, but there is no longer a krill working group within CCAMLR. The CCAMLR Scientific Committee has emphasised the need for a mechanism to better incorporate the relevant science being done on krill into CCAMLR, and thus the SCAR Krill Expert Group (SKEG, formerly the SCAR Krill Action Group) aims to become the prime conduit between CCAMLR and the wider krill science community.
SKEG will provide a forum to guide research directions, promote collaboration, improve understanding of krill biology and ecology, and thus assist in providing critical scientific information relevant to krill fishery management. Furthermore, since ship time for krill fieldwork is becoming more scarce, the group will provide a forum for information exchange on upcoming cruises and funding opportunities, as well as laboratory facilities for experimental krill work, and will serve as a platform for the development of future international collaborative research proposals and programmes.
SKEG will interact with, and provide essential input to existing SCAR groups, such as Integrating Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Southern Ocean (ICED).
A list of Committee Members is available on the Members page.
Aims and future activities
SCAR Krill Expert Group (SKEG) will:
- Assist and inform CCAMLR of the latest scientific knowledge on krill biology and ecology to improve management decisions for the krill fishery.
- Identify fundamental gaps and possible new research directions for krill research.
- Function as a conduit for the wider krill community outside CCAMLR to access opportunities for research and collaboration, including that with the commercial krill fishing operators.
- Interact with, and provide input to, existing SCAR groups, to improve our understanding of Southern Ocean ecosystems and the impacts of climate change thereon.