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Commercial Fishing

The F/V Araho, based on a Skipteknisk design, built by Eastern Shipbuilding

Complied by Marine Log Staff



ore than 5,000 commercial fishing vessels operate off of Alaska, many of them more than 40 years old. A study prepared for the Port of Seattle and the Washington Maritime Federation says that refurbishing or replacing many of these vessels in the U.S. North Pacific fishing fleet offers a significant economic opportunity for naval architects, shipyards, service companies, and suppliers. According to a study prepared by the consulting firm McDowell Group, all but 52 of the 414 federally permitted commercial fishing vessels over 58 feet in length were built in 1989 or before. The study, Modernization of the North Pacific Fishing Fleet, Economic Opportunity Analysis, says that the average price of replacement varies widely by fishery, ranging between $15 million and $130 million. It estimates that the cost to replace the entire fleet over 58 feet in length, including recent newbuilds, would be $11.3 billion. Of these, the cost to replace vessels over 30 years old 22 Marine Log // February 2017

would be about $9 billion. Over the next 10 years, modernization projects valued at $1.6 billion are expected to be completed, with an average of three new vessels (including refurbishments and retrofits) each year between 2017 and 2021. The incentive to replace aging vessels is to add new, more sophisticated processing capacity, as well as increase fuel efficiency. Reducing fish waste and better utilizing harvested volume is one of the most effective ways to increase vessel earnings. The challenge for many projects is the financing. The study says the owner must be confident that the vessel will pay for itself through earnings and the builder must be confident that that vessel can be built to specification and delivered on time with no cost overruns. The lender is going to look for a solid business history and a strong balance sheet.

Modernization Has Started Since 2000, 19 North Pacific fishing vessels over 58 feet in length have been built

or significantly been modified, reports the study. Nine of those were either Amendment 80 or freezer longliner vessels. Portland, OR-based Vigor, with shipbuilding and repair facilities in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, built the 136 ft Arctic Prowler, one of the first of a new generation freezer liners, back in 2013 at its Ketchikan, AK, shipyard. This past November at the Pacific Marine Expo, Vigor unveiled a new affordable 142 ft freezer longliner designed specifically for North Pacific fishing. The Vigor freezer longliner is based on a classic, proven design by Marco Marine, a leader in reliable fish boats for a half a century. The 142 ft x 33.6 ft x 14 ft vessel has a fish hold capacity of 14,070 ft3 and a bait hold capacity of 1,900 ft3. Vigor shipyards have also supported the Pacific Northwest commercial fishing market with several major refit projects. One of the latest freezer trawlers in the modernization of the North Pacific fishing fleet was the F/V Blue North, designed

Photo Credit: Eastern Shipbuilding

Aging commercial fishing fleet presents financing challenges, but a significant opportunity

Marine Log February 2017  
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