Jan 14, 2013

Licence to krill: when conservationists and corporates cosy up

The fundraising practices of WWF, a big player with a $24 million annual domestic turnover, is under question. Crikey examines WWF's corporate links.

Cathy Alexander — Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

A conservationist sends out a fake press release about a highly polluting coal development; national opprobrium follows. But where's the outcry when a conservation group cosies up to business, allowing the use of its logo on a product some experts say is environmentally harmful in return for an undisclosed sum? There have long been rumblings within the green movement about the fundraising practices of WWF, a big international player which bills itself as "the largest conservation organisation in Australia" (it turned over $24 million domestically last year). The latest case involves a microscopic Antarctic beast, a vitamin giant and a mystery sack of cash. WWF-Australia signed a three-year deal with health product purveyors Blackmores in late 2012 to promote its Eco Krill Oil, which is made from krill taken from Antarctic waters. The oil is said to provide "omega-3s for brain, heart and eye health". Blackmores gets to use the WWF logo on its krill oil, in exchange for Blackmores paying WWF an amount of money which neither party will reveal publicly.

The trade is substantial; WWF says more then 20 million capsules of krill oil are chugged down in Australia each year, worth more than $15 million.

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17 thoughts on “Licence to krill: when conservationists and corporates cosy up

  1. Andrew Knott

    What a beat up…

  2. klewso

    I’ve long wondered (or since they’ve been able to encapsulate them at least), “With their ability to “harvest” such large amounts, where would that “excess” they’re taking now, to supplement our “needs”, have gone if not to these harvesters/nets? Would they have gone to waste and just died, or to other parts of the natural food-chain, to feed other marine life in a healthy marine environment?”
    [Same way as the sardine is headed, after the more commercial wild tuna and other species being overfished, beyond sustainable levels?]

  3. JackAubrey

    I think they would have been eaten by all the whales that aren’t there anymore, so they are probably “spare” krill and we would be up to belly-buttons in the stuff (or fast breeding smaller whales) if it weren’t for the harvest.

    That “gentle harvesting” trawling technique (in the link) sounds a lot like the “supertrawler” proposal we were supposed to be so upset about a few months ago. Gosh this stuff is confusing.

  4. Lady White Peace

    Not happy WWF Really NOT HAPPY… you now lose my $20 per month donation.
    Blackmore’s you have lost your credibility, and my business. Money before Morals…is the depressing bottom line for this lot.

  5. Microseris

    Is there a resource left on the planet humans won’t exploit to the detriment of other species?

  6. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    Microseris, the only one I can think of which doesn’t do much damage to other species is soylent green. And if you have any memory left you might recall that soylent green was said at the time to be made from plankton, which, if not exactly ‘krill’ is probably near enough in the marketing stakes (“gentle harvesting”) to be what Blackmores is aiming for. Any connection with the Baby Booming business in Antarctic cruise ship tourism? They do come home again don’t they?

  7. Microseris

    H.Mc The problems in the original movie are exactly the problems we are currently facing.

    Soylent Green 2013 style just might solve a few of our other problems!

  8. zut alors

    It seems to me that whenever a deal is done with a corporation it’s the latter which benefits most.

  9. Ian


    WWF has long had a bad reputation because of its very questionable deals with big business although that is not to say that the environment has not benefited at all from their efforts. I, personally stopped donating to them a long time ago because of these questionable dealings and because it is not as if there are not far more committed and less compromised organizations out there who need all the funding and support they can get they can get to fight for the environmental.

    Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth are worthy of our support as well as a lot of local grass roots set ups. And then there are all the human rights, peace and social justice organizations that are also battling away to stop the juggernaut in its, now not very covert, goal of using power and money to do exactly as they like – bugger the consequences.

  10. klewso

    I thought WWF was the “World Wrestling Federation”?

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