Norway will be issuing permits for krill trawling in the Antarctica to four vessels by end of May. One of the vessels that has presented an application, the Saga Sea, is operated by Aker Biomarine Antarctic AS, and is already fishing with a temporary permit. It is expected that this vessel will receive a new and more permanent authorisation, but with regards to 10 other applications submitted it is not as certain which will receive the permits. It is even more uncertain whether there are any vessels available for chartering, or for satisfying the need for cold storage and processing facilities.
Norwegian companies are now searching for vessels that can be modified for this fishery. Some are looking to the Icelandic vessel Engey REthat was, for unknown reasons, withdrawn from operations planned for West Africa. There are rumours that the vessel is more profitable if chartered to a Norwegian company for krill fishery. After the recent fire onboard Hercules killing 11 crewmembers and destroying the vessel, there are a total of six sisterships, however the Engey REowned by the Icelandic company HB Grandi hf seems to be the only vessel not locked up in long-term contracts. There are 11 applications for permits to target krill in the Antarctica that have been submitted to the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries before the deadline on 20 April. The directorate requested that the applicants submit the name of the vessel intended for use in the fishery, together with its IMO-number, technical specifications, and operational history. The directorate requested technical details for those newly built as well. The applications were also reviewed for financial details, time for starting the fishery and specifications on the intended fishery area, as well as the intended manner in which the krill catch would be used and traded. One of the applicants, Norwegian Krill Company, is seeking a fishing permit for the 35-year-old trawler San Liberatore. It will surprise many if the Norwegian Directorate, which is focusing on environmental issues will accept such an outdated old vessel. This vessel have also been a hot issue in the New Zealand press as the conditions onboard have been given as a reason for why crewmembers have jumped ship recently. Krill Seaproducts have already informed authorities that if they not receive a permit from Norway, and will start operating with a vessel under Vanuatu flag. The vessel they have applied for is a large cargo ship, which will be converted to a stern trawler. Behind Krill Seaproducts is a number of people with vast experience in ship management and fishery operations. (FIS)