A new 194-foot freezer trawler owned by the O’Hara Corp. will join the Amendment 80 fleet in the Bering Sea in 2016 to harvest and process flatfish for sale in markets in Asia and the United States.
O’Hara Corp., which currently operates three catcher-processors in the Bering Sea, targets mostly yellowfin sole, rock sole, and flathead sole, but also processes Alaska plaice, cod and pollock. The headed and gutted fish is processed into 19 kilogram frozen blocks.
The Araho – that’s O’Hara spelled backwards – with a holding capacity of 850 metric tons of fish, was launched on July 31 by Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City, Florida. There’s still more work to do before the vessel heads for Alaskan waters in the spring of 2016, via the Panama Canal.
Company officials say the Araho will be the most technologically advanced fishing boat in the Bering Sea.
The O’Hara family has been engaged in the maritime industry for more than a century since Francis J. O’Hara Jr. started the company. The company’s first vessel fished haddock, cod and halibut on Georges Bank until a German U-Boat sank it on Aug. 21, 1918, during World War One, as noted in the company’s history at www.oharacorporation.com
The Amendment 80 fleet, which harvests in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, includes 28 vessels, of which 23 are currently active, according to Jon McCracken, an economist with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
When Amendment 80 was implemented in 2008, there were no options to allow for replacement of vessels due to constructive loss or being aged out, McCracken said.
Arctic Sole Seafoods then challenged the stator interpretation of section 219 (a) (7) of the Capacity Reduction Program, which established what vessels are in various sectors of the groundfish fisheries of Alaska, and a U.S. District Court found the language in that document to be ambiguous about replacement of qualified vessels.
National Marine Fisheries Service then had to fix the problem, with Amendment 97, in October 2012, to allow for construction of new vessels.
Any new vessels will generally be more efficient in trying to avoid prohibited species catch, and also more efficient from a carbon footprint and energy perspective, McCracken said.
“This is a really important event, the fact that we are moving into an era of new construction and capitalization,” said Chris Woodley, executive director of the Groundfish Forum. “It validates the fishery management system.”