China set to make the most of krill
Trawler fishing for krill in the South Antarctic
Andrew Martin reports on China’s presence in the krill fishery and its plans for development.
China’s ‘Krill Project’ began in October 2010 when the Chinese State Ministry of Science officially launched its 863 Programme. In December 2010 a project team of nine universities and research institutions was set up and the project was formally approved in Dalian in March 2011.
The 863 Project is part of China’s Antarctic Ocean Living Resources Development strategy and is the country’s most important step to become, if not the most important, one of the key players in the Antarctic krill fishery. Named ‘Rapid Separation of Antarctic Krill and Key Technology of Deep Processing’, its target is the exploitation and utilisation of South Antarctic krill.
The project is expected to transform the Chinese offshore fishing industry and lead to the growth and development of the marine economy in Liaoning and Shandong provinces.
While Dalian in Liaoning Province is currently China’s krill fishery centre, Qingdao, a major port and fish processing centre in Shandong Province, aims to become the base for one of the world’s largest integrated Antarctic krill industries. Qingdao has led the development of China’s krill fishing and processing industry and by the time this project is complete, Qingdao port may create over RMB 6 billion of annual output value (about $1 billion).
The krill products to be manufactured in Qingdao will mostly consist of krill meal for various animal applications such as aqua-feeds, and there will be extraction facilities for krill oil for use as a human food ingredient and related human nutritional and health products such as meats, special proteins and peptides, etc.
The first Chinese krill fishery began
in 2010 with Shanghai becoming one of the krill industry bases in China
although mainly for export purposes. In 2011
Tharos, which has been advising on the utilisation of krill in the Southern Ocean for more than 25 years, has invented and developed an internationally patented revolutionary process for the at-sea extraction of phospholipids rich krill oil.
“Several operators are working round the clock to come up with a solution that mimics Tharos’ solvent-free and highly cost efficient process,” said Mr Sclabos. “However, being a patent protected method, we bring a safe solution to operators currently discussing ways of collaboration with us.”
According to Mr Sclabos, Chinese onboard krill processing was an area lacking efficient and high-quality driven engineering solutions. “But new Chinese players have brought updated technologies and, most importantly, the drive to achieve efficient operations and the highest possible quality of end products.
While not that many Chinese companies
are involved in fishing and at-sea processing of krill, several have become
involved in the marketing side of the value chain. “However, as yet, they
cannot compete with the efficiency and quality of end products of krill
processors from other countries,” Mr Sclabos said.