NEW BEDFORD, MA / ACCESSWIRE / March 24, 2023 / In 2018, Blue Harvest Fisheries made its initial commitment to New England's historic groundfish fishery. Our goal was, and is, to help our industry and our community realize the full economic potential of this fishery. We remain committed to and firm in our belief that great opportunity lies off our New England coast, particularly in the haddock, redfish and Atlantic pollock fisheries, where Blue Harvest Fisheries holds most of its quota. Our intent remains to increase our utilization of these well-managed fisheries with healthy biomass, but not currently achieving maximum sustainable yield. To do so, we are focused both on investing in a modern groundfish fleet and developing the next generation of fishermen to take that fleet to sea.
In 2020, Blue Harvest purchased 12 vessels and 27 fishing permits from the Carlos Rafael family. This purchase did two things. It allowed Blue Harvest to expand its activity in the groundfish fishery, in which we see a strong future. It also allowed us to keep the Rafael family fishing vessels and permits in the Port of New Bedford, retaining local fishing jobs and preserving the port's long-standing ties to the groundfish fishery.
Our initial strategy following this purchase was to maintain and improve those vessels, keeping them in operation to fish the acquired permits. However, after two years of operating these vessels, including making significant investments in needed upgrades and repairs, it has become clear that a more modern fleet is necessary as we look to the future. Blue Harvest will continue to fish these groundfish permits and maintain our existing active vessels, but we will be pivoting our focus to the construction and acquisition of the modern, up-to-date fishing vessels we need to operate in the contemporary, competitive seafood harvesting and production marketplace.
Our new vessels will be more efficient and ecologically friendly, with a lower carbon footprint. They will employ the latest technology to better target the plentiful species that we seek, avoiding species that are under duress. They will provide safer working conditions, and more comfortable living conditions for captains and crewmembers. We are not willing to cede the future of seafood to imports. We believe that a successful future for domestic commercial fishing means employing the safest, climate-friendly, efficient, sustainable vessels for our American fishermen.
Blue Harvest has already taken steps to implement this strategy. Last month, the company purchased the newest groundfish vessel currently operating in our waters, the state-of-the-art F/V Francis Dawn, which we have renamed the F/V Nobska, after our former flagship. We are currently working with NOAA Fisheries to transfer the necessary permits to the Nobska, and when that is accomplished, it will allow us to catch and land the highest-quality groundfish more efficiently. We are also working with a local shipyard, developing plans to build two more vessels based on the Nobska design.
As part of this strategy, and in order to focus entirely on upgrading and modernizing our groundfish fleet, Blue Harvest will temporarily suspend operations at its processing plant in New Bedford. We believe that this change will provide a long-term benefit to the fishery, as it will allow us to focus on expanding the quality and capacity of our fleet. We look forward, in the not-too-distant future, to the resumption of processing operations that will complement the most modern fleet in New England waters.
About Blue Harvest Fisheries
Blue Harvest Fisheries is a leading supplier of premium quality seafood sustainably harvested from MSC certified fisheries in the U.S. The company operates its own fleet of groundfish vessels as well as offload facilities in New Bedford and Fairhaven, MA and an SQF certified waterfront manufacturing facility in New Bedford, MA. The Blue Harvest Fisheries product line features haddock, ocean perch (Acadian redfish) and Atlantic pollock (saithe) as well as other groundfish harvested in the waters off New England. Blue Harvest Fisheries products are sold fresh and frozen to leading restaurants, wholesalers and distributors across the U.S. The company also offers custom processing and is a supplier of private label products to retailers and food service distributors.
Stove Boat Communications
SOURCE: Blue Harvest Fisheries
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