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 out-dated perceptions about krill from the 1980s, or earlier. This is impeding the development of new directions in krill research. Given the multiple changes occurring to 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.
Currently, CCAMLR (the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) is the Antarctic body with the most focus on krill, but there is no longer a krill working group within CCAMLR. The CCAMLR Scientific Committee have emphasised that we need a mechanism to better incorporate the relevant science being done on krill into CCAMLR, and thus the SCAR Krill Action Group (SKAG) aims to become the prime conduit between CCAMLR and the wider krill science community.
SKAG 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 an 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.
SKAG will interact with, and provide essential input to existing SCAR groups, such as Integrating Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Southern Ocean (ICED).
Aims and future activities
SCAR Krill Action Group (SKAG) 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.
- Develop a proposal to move towards a SCAR Krill Expert Group.