ACI Boats in Port Townsend, Wash., has been awarded a $3 million contract to build four identical longline boats for American Samoa. The fleet of 38-foot Super Alia longliners will be used to train new entrants to the fishery, as well as established fishermen, and to ensure the safety of the local commercial fishing fleet.
“It is our goal and vision to stabilize, further develop, and grow the fresh fish industry to support our local restaurants and tourism industry,” said Michael McDonald, assistant director of the Department of Commerce of American Samoa. The design, construction and launch of this fleet is funded by a grant through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Insular Affairs and the federal Economic Development Administration.
The four Super Alia (“alia” means “catamaran” in Samoan) designs are identical 38’ x14’ semidisplacement catamarans, designed by ACI Boats and Coastwise Marine Design. They will be constructed with 5086 aluminum hull skins, and 5052 aluminum interior transverse frames, including ACI Boats’ signature self-bailing decks, a forward-leaning, full-width cabin with cuddy, galley, and head compartment.
The design includes an extended aluminum roof over the aft deck to shade the work area. Fishing equipment will include Lingren-Pitman commercial hydraulic longline gear, three ProFisher electric deep-sea reels, a work table, and two 75-cubic-foot insulated fish holds. They will be powered by twin 195-hp Yanmar diesel inboards, and outfitted with Garmin navigation electronics.
“We are excited to take on this project, signaling a positive step in the expansion and growth of our business, and workforce in the Port of Port Townsend,” said Cory Armstrong, owner and founder of ACI Boats. “This is an amazing opportunity for us as a business to build four vessels to the same specifications, while also providing a safe and durable product to the people of American Samoa.”
The first of the four vessels, to be completed in the latter half of this year, will be used as a training platform for boat owners, captains and deckhands. The following three boats will be completed over the course of 18 months and will then be available for lease by the American Samoa Department of Commerce, intended to support the growth and safety of the local fishing fleet.
“In addition, we plan to export high-grade, fresh fish to the global markets so as to create additional economic opportunities for our business owners and entrepreneurs,” said Michael McDonald. “The Super Alia is at the center of this strategy, and we are looking forward to making this become a reality.”
Vertical longline fishing has not been practiced widely by local fishermen. Pelagic longline fishing for tuna was popular during the mid 1980s and ’90s. Over time, the migratory species showed up in reduced numbers, leaving just one alia boat fishing inshore.
The new training program is designed to create a new workforce of local fishermen and boat fishermen operators to work on these types of fishing vessels. Moreover, this project is relevant to existing fishermen who are interested in training to become captains.
Training and education will be arranged twice a year, for about 16-20 participants. It will be broken into two components — theory (in a classroom) and practical (in the field).