Euphausiids, or krill, have been harvested since at least the 19th century and possibly earlier (Fisher et al. 1953). It is, however, only in the last 50 years that large scale commercial harvesting of krill has occurred. Despite the widespread distribution of euphausiids throughout the oceans of the world and their undoubted abundance, they have only been harvested in large quantities in two areas - in Antarctic waters and in the coastal waters off Japan. There are, however, experimental or small-scale krill fisheries in other areas and there has been speculation about the potential for such fisheries in still further areas. This report summarises the available knowledge about the existing fisheries and draws together information on other species of euphausiids that have been thought to have commercial potential.
A number of other reports have been written on the commercial potential of krill, particularly Antarctic krill (Budzinski et al. 1985.; Eddie 1977; Everson 1977; Grantham 1977). Another relatively recent review (Neal and Maris 1985) asessed the harvest of krill in the context of fisheries biology of other shrimps and shrimp-like animals. This report provides additional material to that provided in these reports but no attempt has been made to summarise their content except where it is necessary to understand new developments. Much of the information on the fisheries for Euphausia pacifica is published in Japanese or is published in reports of fisheries agencies. For this reason, the biology of, and the fisheries on, this species are dealt with in some detail utilising these information sources which have not previously been readily available.
Much of the material related to the development of commercial krill fisheries is not available in a published or accessible form and some of the material is of a sensitive commercial nature. In the preparation of this report we have had to make use of published information and what information was made available to us from the fishing industries and from individuals working in both industry and for government organisations. We realise that there are developments in the krill fishing industry that are highly sensitive and are subject to patent applications and therefore cannot be mentioned directly in this document. As a result this report is an attempt to bring into wider circulation information about the various existing and potential krill fisheries that is generally available, realising that such information has a limited currency. Because there are likely to be many developments in krill fisheries in the near future, this report is intended to be a source of current information rather than be the definitive statement on krill resources, their harvesting, management and usage.