Blue Harvest Fisheries in New Bedford, Mass., recently completed its purchase of the newly-christened Nobska, a 90’x30’ trawler built in 2019.

Designed by Farrell & Norton Naval Architects and built in 2019 at Fairhaven Shipyard, Mass., the dragger was originally known as the Francis Dawn and based in Maine.

It is one of the newest groundfish vessels operating in New England “and represents the first step in implementing the company’s plans for the future of its groundfish operations,” according to a statement from Blue Harvest Fisheries. 

The Nobska “has several innovative features that allows it to land in-demand, premium groundfish. These include a state-of-the-art electronics system, and a slurry ice/vat system for the fish hold that allows the Nobska to keep groundfish fresher for longer, and to land a higher-quality product at the dock,” the company says.

The re-christened Nobska replaces an older Blue Harvest vessel of the same name, a 99.8-foot dragger that suffered an engine room fire while fishing 80 miles off Cape Cod April 30, 2021. The five-man crew were safely rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter crew.

After the boat burned for two days it was towed back to New Bedford, and determined to be a total loss at $2.4 million, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report on the accident.

Buying the modern Nobska is part of the company’s strategy to assemble a new, modern fleet. The plan includes investing in newer vessels that can spend more days fishing every year, run more efficiently, and require less maintenance.

“We are excited for the opportunities that a new, modern vessel like the Nobska will provide for our groundfish operations,” said Chip Wilson, CEO of Blue Harvest Fisheries. “We are committed to the long-term future of this fishery, and this purchase is the first step in our strategy to remain involved here in Massachusetts for years to come.”

The new Nobska will fish for groundfish in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank, landing its catch in both New Bedford and Gloucester.

Blue Harvest will be working with the Nobska’s current captain, Aldie Leeman, who has been with the vessel since its initial launch as Francis Dawn and who brings decades of fishing experience to the company. Blue Harvest will also be working in the coming weeks to transfer the groundfish permit from the old Nobska to the new replacement vessel.


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Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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