Krill are small crustaceans, the bedrock of many marine species across all the oceans and in the Antarctic. They are considered to be the key to the health of fish, whale populations and penguins in the Antarctic.
Although the Chinese have resolutely denied it, James Wray, a Conservative member of Parliament in the UK who has returned from a trip to Antarctica with four other MPs as part of the environmental audit committee’s work said: “The Chinese in particular, and others, are sending factory ships hoovering up krill. There is a spot between the Falklands and Argentina which is not governed by international law. And the Chinese activity in there is lawless. They are sending in dozens of huge ships.”
He added that, “the Chinese and the Russians in particular” are blocking the creation of a 4,000,000 km² protected area around Antarctica. This happened at an international conference and October 2023.
He warned that overfishing was a significant challenge for Antarctic wildlife in conjunction with climate change and avian flu in mammals in the sub-Antarctic, which has recently been discovered.
The Chinese embassy in London denied the accusations and said that Wray’s comments were “exaggerated and full of prejudice, and we firmly opposed them.” They added that “China is a responsible country in distant-water fisheries.”