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Canwest News Service July 22, 2009
Canada has no plans to prohibit krill harvesting off the West Coast, despite last week's decision by the United States to ban the harvesting of the tiny, shrimp-like creatures off the coast of California, Washington and Oregon.
The three states had previously banned krill fishing within five kilometres of their coastline, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has now prohibited krill harvesting in the economic zone, which stretches from five kilometres to 320 kilometres.
Krill are regarded as a vital building block in the marine food chain.
Humpback whales, blue whales, salmon and seabirds are among the species that rely on the small crustaceans for food.
But krill harvests in areas such as Antarctica and Japan are ballooning as demand grows for fishmeal. Some environmental groups are concerned that overharvesting will lead to the collapse of endangered species.
Fishmeal made from krill is used in some fish-farming operations, home aquariums and pet foods.
Russell Mylchreest, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' shellfish co-ordinator for fisheries management and assessment, said there is a small krill fishery in inlets off the Strait of Georgia and there is no plan for a ban.
"The allowable catch is a very low percentage of the total krill stock. It is a pretty precautionary approach," he said. "There has been research, but no one is recommending a ban."
The krill fishery takes place in Knight, Bute, Jervis and Toba Inlets and the total allowable catch is 500 tonnes a year.
However, in recent years, fishermen have not been taking the total catch because of low prices and there is no talk of expanding the fishery, Mylchreest said.
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