The research project is named NorChiK.
Three Norwegian fishing vessels landed 120 000 tonnes of krill from the Southern Ocean in 2010, the lion’s share taken by MV “Saga Sea”. From 1999 to 2009 krill catches varied between 100 000 and 150 000 tonnes. In 2010 this total catch peaked at 212 000 tonnes, landed by vessels from seven nations.
Norway is expected to increase its harvest of this shrimplike crustacean in the years to come.
– Therefore, it is important that Norway is present in the area and contributes to the research on this species. We did a survey in the Southern Ocean with our own research vessel “G.O. Sars” in 2008, but it more convenient and less expensive to use MV “Saga Sea” to collect scientific data, says Svein Iversen.
He is Norway’s representative in the scientific committee that manages the marine resources in the Southern Ocean, CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources).
China moves in
The scientists Bjørn Kraft and Seorg Skaret will carry out the survey in February, who both have been on the Saga Sea whilst krill-trawling before, collecting scientific data. The surveys in the South Orkney area over the next five years is expected to provide scientific data on krill and some of the species that feed on it, primarily penguins and seals.
After some time the Norwegian scientists will be joined by Chinese colleagues. China started krill fishery in the Southern Sea last year, and landed nearly 2000 tonnes, but a rapid increase in their fishing effort is expected.
– We have cooperated with China in marine research over many years. When China now has aspiration in krill-fishing, we find cooperation also in this area to be both convenient and desirable, says Svein Iversen.
Improved krill control
The South Orkney Islands are situated in one of the three krill fishing areas in the Southern Ocean. This area has not received regularly scientific attention, whereas Great Britain and the USA have regular surveys in the other two.
– Including the South Orkney area in the research programme will give us better understanding of the dynamics and development of krill biomass and krill distribution in this part of the ocean. This knowledge will be of great value for the future management of the krill resources. The basis for today’s management a ten year old survey that covered the whole fishing area, a big international effort that unfortunately has not been repeated, says Iversen.