Antarctic Krill research - can you help?


Greenpeace has just launched a new, global campaign calling for the world’s biggest ocean sanctuary to be created in the Antarctic Ocean. Home to an amazing array of sea creatures, including whales, seals and penguins, the Antarctic Ocean is under threat from a warming climate and an expanding commercial krill-fishing industry.

While the main power to create this protected area lies with our governments, the krill industry is lobbying ministers against putting areas of the Antarctic off-limits to their fishing vessels. Krill products, in the form of health supplements, are on the shelves of UK supermarkets, chemists and health shops, but we’re not sure which products are sold where. That’s where you come in.

We need your help with some in-store research, to find out which shops sell which krill products. Your research will give us a good overview of the size and distribution of the UK krill market, and will help us shape this element of our campaign.

Please find full details below or you can download a PDF of the briefing here.


Campaign context

Over the next year, we have an opportunity to make history. In October 2018, governments around the world will meet to discuss the creation of the largest protected area on Earth: an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary. At 1.8 million square kilometers, it would be five times the size of Germany, or 200 times the size of Yellowstone National Park. An Antarctic Sanctuary would form a safe haven for penguins, whales and seals, and put the waters off-limits to the industrial fishing vessels that want to suck up the tiny shrimp-like krill, on which all Antarctic life relies. But an Antarctic Sanctuary will only happen if we rise up with one voice to demand that our leaders fulfil the obligation we all have to protect our shared oceans.

Sitting at the base of our blue planet, the Antarctic is home to a great diversity of life. There are colonies of Emperor and Adélie penguins which can pair for life, the incredible colossal squid with eyes the size of basketballs that allow it to hunt in the depths, and the largest animal on the planet, the blue whale, with a heart the size of a gorilla.

But the fishing industry is looking to expand and is targeting the one species on which practically every animal in the Antarctic relies: the tiny shrimp-like krill, which forms the bottom of the food chain. Krill may be no bigger than your little finger, but they ensure the survival of the biggest creatures on Earth, like blue whales, sperm whales and humpback whales, alongside most other wildlife in the Antarctic. Without krill, most life forms in the Antarctic would vanish.

With a changing climate already placing penguin and whale populations under pressure, an expanding krill industry is bad news for the health of the Antarctic Ocean. Even worse, the krill industry and the governments that back it are blocking attempts at Antarctic protection.


An Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary would prevent the krill industry from stealing food from penguins and whales and provide relief for wildlife populations to recover. But the benefits of ocean sanctuaries are global. Healthy oceans play a crucial role in soaking up carbon dioxide, helping us to avoid the worst effects of climate change. And they provide food security for the billions of people who rely on our oceans. Our fate and the fate of our oceans are intimately connected.

No business is worth sacrificing a whole ecosystem for. No retailers should be selling products which could mean starvation for whales and penguins. And world leaders shouldn’t allow an ocean wilderness to become an industrial wasteland.

Creating an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, the largest protected area on Earth, would be a signal that corporate lobbying and national interests are no match for a unified global call for our political leaders to protect what belongs to us all. The movement to protect over half our planet begins now, and it begins in the Antarctic.


Citizen research - what we would like you to do

We would like you to look for krill products in major supermarkets, chemists and health shops, gather specific pieces of information, record your findings and send them in to us.

You can do this research activity on your own or in pairs.

We’ve created a short form which you can access from a smartphone or tablet, to capture the information live. Or you can write down your findings and email it to us.

You will need to:

  1. Look for krill products (you’re most likely to find krill oil, which will probably be in the health supplements section but you may find other products elsewhere)

  2. How many types and brands of krill products are on sale here, and how many of each product?

  3. If you can, please take a photo of all the krill products on the shelf

The information we need is:

  1. Name and brand of each krill product, e.g. Vitabiotics Super Strength Red Krill Oil

  2. Price of each product

  3. Name and location of shop (town and street name)

  4. Does the product claim to contain Antarctic krill?

  5. What health benefits does the product claim?

  6. Which section of the shop was the product in?

  7. Was it prominently placed e.g. at eye level or hidden away on a low shelf?

  8. Are there any promotions for any of the krill products e.g. buy one get one free?

To gather the information, please use this online form: or you can email your findings to rachael [dot] king [at] greenpeace [dot] org with the subject line “Krill research findings”. If you’d prefer to print off a form to take with you while you do the research, you can use this form.

Where to go?

We think krill products are on sale in all the main supermarkets, chemists and health shops. We need the research to come from all over the UK in as many supermarkets, chemists and health shops as possible. Please only target well-known retailers e.g. Boots, Superdrug, Holland & Barrett, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Co-op, Waitrose, M&S, Aldi and Lidl.

By when?

We would like you to start doing this ASAP and to gather as much information as possible by 10th December. If we extend the research beyond this initial phase, we’ll let you know.

What to say if staff in the shop challenge you?

This is not a top secret survey, so don’t worry if someone approaches you and asks what you are doing. The best thing to say is that you are concerned about the sustainability of krill products and are doing some research into it. It doesn’t matter if you say that you are from Greenpeace or not. And of course, you don’t have to say anything  if you don’t want to, you can just leave the store.

Any questions?

If you have any questions relating to this activity, please contact rachael [dot] king [at] greenpeace [dot] org

If you're interested in learning more about the Antarctic campaign, please join our group on Greenwire.

And if you haven't yet signed our petition, you can do so here: