Aker further upgrades krill fleet with new support vessel

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Aker BioMarine photo
Aker BioMarine photo

Related tags Krill Krill oil EPA and DHA Sustainability

Norwegian krill oil supplier Aker BioMarine has announced the launch of yet another new vessel, in this case a supply ship that supports the company’s three harvesting vessels operating in Antarctic waters.

The new vessel, called Antarctic Provider, will operate out of Montevideo, Uruguay.  It replaces an older vessel known as La Manche and incorporates the latest marine systems technology to reduce its carbon footprint and its impact on the local environment.

Building new provided opportunity for technology upgrade

eldar vindvik aker
Eldar Vindvik

This vessel is the newest vessel and has the newest technology in our fleet. Our previous new build harvesting/production vessel, Antarctic Endurance, has the same focus, with a similar level of efficiencies,” ​Eldar Vindvik, Aker’s VP of fleet renewal & procurement, told NutraIngredients-USA.

“The marine industry is constantly developing, and this gave us the possibility to optimize the efficiency even further,”​ he added.

Antarctic Provider was built in a shipyard in mainland China, the first of the company’s ships to be built there. Now that the company has three high technology harvesting vessels in operation, it is bringing in about 65% of the total world catch, said Pål Einar Skogrand, who is Aker’s director of Antarctic affairs.  He said in addition to Aker’s fleet there are about nine other ships engaged in teh fishery, split between China, South Korea, Chile and Ukraine.

Aker has long emphasized its commitment to conducting the krill fishery in a sustainable manner. The company pioneered a harvesting technique in which the nets that snare the krill swarms remain submerged and the krill are pumped out in a stream of aerated water, much in the way an aquarium filter pump works. 

The approach helps protect the krill from spoilage, as the crustaceans’ bodies can be easily crushed in a heavy net hauled on deck and the high amounts of enzymes in their flesh results in quick oxidation even in the cold weather of the Southern Ocean. It also helps to eliminate the bycatch which can be the bane of many fisheries.

New ship fits in with sustainability mission 

Aker has also cooperated in scientific research to establish the overall krill population in order to determine safe harvesting limits.  The catch limit is set at a tiny fraction of the overall biomass by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, or CCAMLR, a multinational organization that governs Antarctic fisheries.

The new vessel has a high efficiency multi fuel diesel engine manufactured in Finland. In addition it has thrusters designed both for greater thrust as well as reduced underwater noise. Ship noise has become an issue in recent years, with marine ecosystem experts worried about its effects especially on marine mammals that communicate with each other and find their prey mostly by sound.  A recent paper in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science​ noted that the Antarctic environment could be particularly vulnerable to noise pollution because of its very cold waters and the large amount of sea ice cover.

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