Russian fishing giants mulling new vessels to tap huge krill resource

January 3, 2021 22:08

Russia’s Federal Agency for Fisheries (FAF) is working on various support measures encouraging big Russian fishing companies to build dedicated new vessels and resume krill fishery in the Antarctic where the nation’s catch is expected to reach some 300 KT in the next four to five years, reports

According to Kommersant, the Russian Fishery Company (RFC), the Norebo Holding and the Lenin Fishing Co-op are already mulling orders for construction of krill harvesters. For fishing in Antarctica, new modern large-capacity vessels are required, the cost of construction abroad estimated within $100-120 million, and in the Russian Federation — almost twice as much.

Accordingly, the companies are waiting for the government to provide subsidies for the construction of the fleet in Russia and such measures are being worked out by the sector’s regulator.

Sergey Sennikov, Deputy Director of Norebo Management Company, has confirmed that the holding is working on the possibility of building krill vessels but the question is its price and the support measures that the state is ready to provide.

Now the krill processor trawler design is being prepared which will clarify the costs, he explained. In any case, krill fishing is a unique and complex fishery that requires expensive and very productive vessels, using new technologies and technical solutions. According to Mr. Sennikov, construction and commissioning is a matter of some next five years. It is also necessary to resolve issues with the manufacture of krill products, marketing, logistics, as well as the ships’ supplies and the operating bases, he concluded.

The Russian Fishery Company (RFC) also considers the market for the Antarctic krill very promising. "We are carefully studying it," said Savely Karpukhin, adviser for strategy to the company's General Director. "We see the risks of implementing the project — from the difficulties associated with the construction of a unique vessel, to the organization of logistics in the Antarctic," says Mr. Karpukhin quoted by Kommersant. He added that the Russian Fishery Company is actively discussing the project with FAF and " hopes that through joint efforts of business and the state, this unique and important project for Russia's international prestige will be implemented."

The Lenin Fishing Co-op has also confirmed that the company is considering the possibility of building krill boats.

At the same time, industry sources say that the cost of building krill factory trawlers in the Russian Federation can be twice as high as in Turkey, China or other foreign shipyards.

If abroad the cost is estimated at about $100-120 million, then in the Russian Federation such a vessel may cost about $200 million.

Among the Russian shipyards that have the capability to fulfill the order one should mention the "Admiralty Shipyards", "The Northern Yard" and Vyborg Shipbuilding Plant (all enterprises are part of the United Shipbuilding Corporation).

Russia’s Federal Agency for Fisheries (FAF) says that it is interested in the earliest start of commercial development of the Antarctic krill stocks. In particular, a draft decree of the Government of the Russian Federation is currently being developed, which provides for compensation of part of the costs for the construction of dedicated krill catchers.

Krill can be supplied both in frozen form and processed into meal and technical oil, and it is also used in the production of agricultural additives and feed, food additives, and pharmaceuticals.

CCAMLR (Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) estimates that the region can support a catch of about 5 million MT of krill per year.

FAF has been working on the krill project for several years already. In 2018, the agency proposed to allocate at least 6 billion rubles from the Federal Budget for the construction of two large-capacity krill harvesters worth some 20 billion rubles. The vessels were supposed to catch 150 thousand metric tons of krill per year. At that time, the agency noted that in the context of growing competition for marine bioresources, krill is one of the last undistributed and underexploited stocks included in the strategic agenda of economic development of China, Japan, South Korea, Norway, etc.

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