Winning combination

A change a few years ago in Norwegian regulations governing which fishing methods can be combined in a single vessel has opened the way for longline and seine net combinations – and the latest newbuild to bring these methods together has been delivered.

Østerfjord sailed from its builder in Turkey at the end of last year and at the beginning of January headed out from Ålesund for its first trials trip to test the 76,000-hook Mustad system before starting fishing on cod for real in the Barents Sea.

Built for the Østervold family from the fishing industry hotspot of Austevoll on Norway’s west coast, the 67 metre by 14.6 metre breadth Østerfjord has been designed by Marin Teknikk and built at the Tersan yard in Turkey. A relative newcomer to the longline business but with a long background in pelagic fisheries, the Østervold family last year sold their previous Østerfjord to the Faroes ahead of the new vessel’s completion.

Østerfjord ready to sail home from Turkey. Image: Tersan

The new Østerfjord has a full factory deck capable of both H&G and fillet production, with frozen products held in a freezer hotel before being transferred to the fishroom to be stored on pallets.

This is a comfortable vessel, with a cinema, gym, sauna and roomy cabins for the crew of 19 – which includes Christian Østervold’s 18-year-old daughter Helga sailing as an apprentice to get her first experience of longline fishing.

‘I have not been line fishing before, so this will be exciting. And it’s great to go to sea with a brand-new, beautiful boat,’ she said.

Christian Østervold and his daughter Helga, who is sailing as an apprentice on board Østerfjord. Image: Odd Kristian Dahle /Fiskebåt

According to Christian Østervold, they are making a start with the longline gear, and seine netting will have to wait for a few months. The Karmøy Winch deck hardware is in place, but so far there is no seine netting gear on board.

‘We will probably need some practice for that kind of fishing,’ said Olav Østervold, adding that they expect to turn to seine netting in March.

‘Neither we nor the crew have any experience of seine netting, but we a lot of experience of purse seine fishing.’

The longline setup is a 76,000-hook Mustad system. Image: Odd Kristian Dahle /Fiskebåt

Østerfjord’s owners opted for a moonpool for hauling the longline, enabling catches to be stunned and bled immediately before going to the factory deck for processing.

‘It makes it possible to haul the line in heavier weather conditions,’ said Richard Gjerde at Marin Teknikk adding that the catch quality is also better and there is less loss of fish from the line while hauling.

‘It’s also safer for the crew, and they are not exposed to green seas while hauling, as they are with the traditional hauling position on deck.’

Christian, Helga and Olav Østervold in Østerfjord’s cinema. Image: Odd Kristian Dahle /Fiskebåt

He commented that while Marin Teknikk has a long background of designing longliners, including a long series of vessels built for Ervik Havfiske, many of them built at Tersan, this is the first time that they have been asked to combine longline and seine net gear in a single vessel layout, as well as incorporating a high-efficiency factory deck and an innovative propulsion package.

‘It’s always a challenge, but the feedback has been positive. I feel we have hit a good balance in terms of achieving good stability, seakeeping qualities and space on board.’

Østerfjord has a 2540kW Bergen Diesel main engine, as well as a 300kW battery pack.

‘It’s a sophisticated setup, and Olav Østervold has made a big investment in this as he wanted an environmentally friendly vessel,’ Richard Gjerde said, commenting that this provides options for conventional mechanical propulsion and both diesel-electric and battery operation, providing a number of operating modes suited to the vessel’s various activities. This optimises operation as far as possible and minimises both fuel consumption and emissions.

‘This is a game-changer for the Norwegian industry,’ Richard Gjerde said, referring to the relaxation of regulations that allows longlining and seine netting methods to be combined in a single vessel.

‘We expect a lot of interest in this, especially when people see how good this vessel is and what opportunities this offers.’