The Russians are coming — with big nets in tow

Last year, the Russian Fishery Co. reported landings of more than 226,000 tons of Alaska pollock and 65,000 tons of Pacific herring. Now the company is bringing a new fleet to the Bering Sea.

Starting with the planned June 2019 launch of a 300-foot-plus freezer-trawler being completed at Tersan Shipyard in Evliya Çebeli, Turkey, the company will follow with six boats to be built domestically in yards near St. Petersburg at a cost of over $100 million each. Completion of the final launch is projected for 2023. The new vessels are expected to replace the company’s current fleet of 12 aging trawlers.

The trawler coming out of the Tersan yard will be powered by an 11,000-hp MAN V-14 diesel and turn a 14-foot-diameter propeller. It will be able to freeze 85 metric tons of pollock fillets, 80 tons of pollock surimi, 50 tons of mince, 60 tons of herring fillets and process 250 tons of raw material into fishmeal every day.

The Russian Fishery Co. is not alone. Norebo, another large harvester in Russia, has laid the keel for the Captain Solokov, which sports a unique bow design. It is the first of six 286-foot trawlers Norebo is said to be building, each with a processing capacity of 150 tons of fish a day. According to various news reports, the first four of these boats are heading for the Barents Sea. But the company has also floated the possibility of building new boats for the Alaska pollock fishery.

The Russian government has slightly increased its total allowable catch for pollock in the western Bering Sea for 2019. It is also reported to be setting aside 20 percent of its pollock quota for companies that invest in new vessels, sparking an expectation of a boom in factory trawler launches in the coming years.

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Paul Molyneaux is the Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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