Seattle-based fishing and seafood processing company Arctic Storm is set to launch a brand new vessel ahead of the Alaskan pollock fishing season kicking off in January 2024.
Fellow Seattle-based processing company American Seafoods is also finishing restorations on a vessel it purchased earlier this year from Phoenix Processor Limited Partnership to ensure it can also take advantage of the traditionally lucrative first pollock season of the year.
Arctic Storm’s new vessel, the 328-foot Arctic Fjord, is the first pollock trawler built in the U.S. in more than 30 years, and the company has been preparing the ship for the 2024 pollock season by putting it through sea trials in the Northern Pacific.
Construction of the vessel, which was designed by Norwegian maritime technology company Kongsberg Maritime and built in the U.S. state of Louisiana by Thoma-Sea Marine Constructor, took about five years to complete. The Arctic Fjord will replace the company’s original ship of the same name, which dated back to 1974. It joins three other vessels in Arctic Storm’s fleet, which primarily catches pollock and whiting.
“The Arctic Fjord sets a new benchmark for the Alaskan pollock fleet; from its fuel-efficient design to the outstanding crew accommodations and state-of-the-art onboard processing facilities, every element has been cherry-picked to not just do the job but to do it to the highest possible standards,” Kongsberg Vice President of Sales Jess Woodruff said.
The vessel comes equipped with multibeam sonar, a sounder system, live cameras for monitoring purposes, and a gear-monitoring system, among other updated technology. The sounder system allows the ship to locate and inspect schools of fish and reduce bycatch by identifying fish type and size, while the camera and gear-monitoring systems ensure proper deployment of the ship’s nets and verify catch in real time. The ship also has a crew capacity of 152 people and will be able to process pollock fillets, fishmeal, and fish oil, which opens up additional revenue streams for the company.
The Arctic Fjord was one of the largest projects Kongsberg has ever taken on, but it was not the first time the company has collaborated with Arctic Storm, as it has supplied the fishing company with trawl systems, sounders, and sonars for other vessels in its fleet in the past.
“We have an excellent relationship with Kongsberg and greatly appreciated their support in this landmark project,” Arctic Storm Vice President Brett Johnson said. “It is our ambition to raise the bar with our newbuilds, providing vessels that deliver optimal results for our stakeholders while minimizing their impacts on the environments where they operate. Efficiency is central to achieving those objectives, and Kongsberg’s advanced solutions help us pinpoint, identify, and engage with our targets in a manner that is truly industry-leading.”
Meanwhile, in August 2023, American Seafoods announced that its refurbished vessel, the American Empress II, was ready for its first voyage and sent it out for the fall hake season almost immediately after the announcement. The ship joins the company’s fleet of six other vessels mainly harvesting Alaskan hake and pollock.
American Seafoods CEO Einar Gustafsson told SeafoodSource in May 2023 the company is pursuing a separate new-build.
“We have had to have a preliminary design done and we’re looking at some financing and shipyards. Obviously, it is challenging given the U.S. regulations to do this,” he said.
“Adding this vessel to the American Seafoods fleet further strengthens its ability to efficiently and productively harvest its share of the two most sustainable whitefish fisheries in the world,” the company stated in a June press release. “American Empress II’s namesake has deep roots within the [company’s] history, as sister vessel American Empress was a first-of-its-kind fishing vessel and the company’s original modern factory trawler built by the company’s founder, Kjell Inge Rokke, in 1988.”
American Empress II comes to the fleet at a time when American Seafoods continues to explore a potential sale of the company, a deal which would confirm market insider anticipation of upcoming consolidation in the pollock market. The company has received fines for violations of the Clean Water Act, and its subsidiaries have settled Jones Act violations with U.S. Customs and Border Control and the U.S. Department of Justice amid rumors of its potential sale.
This story originally appeared on SeafoodSource.com and is republished here with permission.