New $6 million fishing vessel boosts jobs in Nelson and West Coast
Credit: Stuff NZ
A $6 million longline fishing vessel will be built in Nelson and is set to create new jobs for the West Coast fishing industry.
The 26-metre vessel Te Runanga will provide up to 25 new jobs on the West Coast, and more during its construction Nelson.
Designed by marine architects Oceantech NZ and built by Nelson-based Aimex Service Group – which recently completed Nelson Coastguard’s new $1.4m Sealord Rescue Vessel – it will be one of only two longliners built in New Zealand and the biggest by nearly 10m.
Aimex general manager Steve Sullivan said the new build would be two metres larger in terms of displacement than the FV Santy Maria, completed in 2016, making it the company’s biggest build from that perspective, although not the longest.
He said the chance to build Te Runanga was “massive” for the company.
Te Runanga would be 2m longer than Westfleet’s other two longliners, and crucially its fish hold would be almost twice as large, with a 110 cubic metre capacity.
Westfleet is jointly owned by Sealord and managing director Craig Boote, a proud Coaster who first went to sea as a 14-year-old and was a skipper by 18, before purchasing Westfleet in 2006.
Taking its name from the West Coast town in which Boote grew up, Westfleet’s sixth boat would be based at Greymouth and was expected to be sea ready by mid-2022.
With a crew of up to eight, it would in effect create about 25 full-time jobs collectively with the additional fish it brought to the factory.
It would also be built strong enough to go into the Southern Ocean around the Bounties.
“Some might think it’ll be too small to venture there but this boat’s built like a tank,” Boote said.
The greater size would enable the catch – the target species being ling – to be stored on ice in 660-litre insulated containers at sea, reducing handling during unloading at Greymouth.
Sealord chief executive and Westfleet director Doug Paulin said the new vessel made good commercial sense because it was better equipped than the older longliners for rougher weather.
Paulin said the level of investment made by Westfleet was testament to Boote’s belief in the West Coast fishery and would also be beneficial for the long-term future of the region.
Boote said special consideration had been given to the crew’s working and living conditions to prioritise staff well-being.
“We’ve designed it with the living areas on the top level with 360-degree views, and alongside the wheelhouse to promote more engagement between the skipper and crew.”
Each bunk, below deck, would also have its own screen with wi-fi.
“I’ve tried to design it so that when the crew ‘go home’ to their accommodation at night it’s like going into an upmarket townhouse,” Boote said.
To help avoid bird encounters, the company was also trialling a laser system as well as the baffler system tried and tested on its other boats.