National Fisherman


Odlin's big bet

A Portland, Maine, fisherman will freeze herring and mackerel aboard a $24 million, 346-foot vessel

By Jerry Fraser

It was 66 degrees, unseasonably warm for January in Maine, the day the American Freedom eased away the Portland Ocean Terminal, southbound, more or less, for the waters below Long Island, N.Y.
But for New England fishermen, the weather was hardly the story.

At 346 feet long, American Freedom is bigger than some Maine harbors. And although she won't actually catch fish — legally, I'm not sure you can dangle a single hook over the side — she is certainly a fish boat. What else do you call a vessel that can pump live herring and mackerel out of the ocean and deliver top quality frozen food in neat little packages, 2,000 tons at a time?

That's a very big fish boat, indeed.

Under the name American Pelagic Seafood, longtime Portland fisherman Jim Odlin and his fellow investors have pumped 24 million — dollars, not herring — into American Freedom. Odlin, 52, refers to the boat as a freezer ship or mothership.

The latter description works well, because American Freedom will work with smaller (relatively speaking) pelagic trawlers that will catch fish but not take them aboard, instead passing brailers full of fish over to the mothership.

"This is an opportunity for a lot of vessels to participate in a fishery that has a healthy resource," he says.

For this first trip, which Odlin has planned as a two-week shakedown cruise, a couple of those trawlers will likely be owned by Odlin's other company, Atlantic Trawlers Co.

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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