Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Blue North Freezer-Longliner Due for Arrival in October 2014

A new longliner set to enter Alaska’s cod hook-and-line fishery in October 2014 will offer state-of-the-art environmental and safety advantages, and an ultimate goal of 100 percent utilization of the versatile fish harvested by Blue North Fisheries.

“It’s the biggest story to hit the waterfront in Seattle in a long time,” said Kenny Down, Blue North president and chief executive officer. “It’s really cool.”

The vessel, designed by Skipsteknisk AS, a Norwegian ship design firm, will be built by Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes, Washington, Blue North officials said May 7.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, (D-WA), heralded the announcement, saying the new vessel would “support shipbuilding jobs in Anacortes while adding to a strong legacy of building cutting-edge fishing vessels in Washington State.”

The 191-foot, $30 million-plus hook-and-line vessel will be the only freezer longliner in the Alaska fisheries with a fillet line, and safety features that include heated indoor working space to gaff each fish coming into the moon pool, from a line coming up through the bottom of the boat.

“They have engineered this so that in seven meter seas with 20 foot waves, the level of water in the moon pool will only fluctuate half a meter,” said Pat Burns, vice president of Blue North.

For crew, the internal haul station means they will no longer be exposed to rough seas and freezing temperatures for hours on end, and the risk of falling overboard during hauling is negated. The vessel also is being built with a heavily weighted box keel design, to keep weight low, as well as an anti-roll tank. These features combine to provide an extremely stable working platform, further enhancing safety factors and crew comforts designed into every detail of the vessel.

The internal haul station will also help reduce bycatch mortality, Down and Burns said. According to the International Pacific Halibut Commission the halibut bycatch mortality is 10 percent, based on a 10-year rolling average, but Blue North’s goal is to cut that loss to 5 percent. The hook-and-line gear itself will leave a greatly reduced environmental footprint on the bottom of the ocean, they said.

“We typically sail with about 22 crew, so we should be able to sail with the same amount of crew and with the automation and the factory (on board) they will be able to work on ancillary products, so will be able to put out more product with the same amount of people,” Burns said.

The Blue North, which will head for the Bering Sea fisheries in October 2014, will probably do four-week trips, with the freezer cargo capacity for about 1.5 million pounds of frozen product, including those cod heads, which will be sold in Africa as a source of protein.

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