National Fisherman


Boats & Gear 

Michael CrowleyThe Boats & Gear blog is overseen by our Boats & Gear editor, Michael Crowley. It explores new construction projects, electronics, gear and equipment for the commercial fishing industry.

Aging fishing fleets, the high cost of diesel fuel and the need to operate at efficiency levels unimaginable 20 years ago are all good reasons to consider building a new boat.

If that’s something you are contemplating, a good place to have been last week was Seattle’s Pacific Marine Expo. More than one fisherman has purchased most of the equipment his new boat needs at the Expo, and a goodly amount of it can be had at a discount.

While there, you would have attended a conference on the design challenges you, the naval architect and boatbuilder will encounter. Labeled “Naval Architecture: Understanding the process, decision points and input requirements for designing you next vessel,” the conference was guided by Jonathan Platt of J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Corp. and Johan Sperling of Jensen Maritime Consultants.

The rising costs of steel, maintenance and fuel, as well as better crew accommodations are some of those design challenges. “Until recently boat owners didn’t care about fuel costs. Today every single one asks, ‘How can we save on fuel?’” said Sperling.

Add to those hurdles new regulatory challenges for things such as wastewater management, weight, and stability. “Wastewater treatment can change the life of vessels,” noted Sperling.

In the old days — 30 years ago — designing and building a boat were separate options. Today, the boat’s owner, the shipyard and the designer have to work together. That means getting the regulatory agencies and the Coast Guard involved early. “It's important to be all working together on the project,” said Platt. Then when the construction starts, time, materials and your money won’t be wasted.

As Platt said, “Once we start building and we put 100 guys on a boat, it's like ants to a picnic. We want to give them the right sandwich.”

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

Read more...

Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

Read more...
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