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December 7, 2009

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

China eyes Antarctic as fishing frontier

WITH an eye toward putting high-protein Antarctic krill on Chinese tables, two Chinese oceangoing vessels will navigate the Antarctic circle late this month to collect information on the shrimp-like creatures for commercial fishing, said local fishery experts.

Besides serving as dishes and fish bait, the krill is expected to be developed for health tonics such as krill oil, said experts from East China Sea Fishery Research Institute under China Academy of Fishery Sciences.

China has a green light for the venture from the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, an international organization to protect the ecosystem of the seas surrounding Antarctica.

The 6-centimeter-long crustaceans are found in the Antarctic waters of the Southern Ocean. They usually gather in throngs on the surface water, with the highest concentrations in the Atlantic region, and are an important food source for whales, seals, penguins and many other species of birds.

The five-year project launched by the Ministry of Agriculture will focus on the 48 sea areas of the South Atlantic Ocean region. Experts will spend three years in researching where and how to fish krill and how to store and use the crustaceans, and the next two years on a pilot commercial fishery.

Chen Xuezhong, the project leader, said Antarctic krill fishery is very meaningful to China's sustainable development on ocean fishing.

"Its high protein and vitamin content make krill quite suitable for both direct human consumption and the animal-feed industry," Chen said.


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