Report: North Pacific fleet needs $1.6 billion upgrade

Major vessel projects could stretch into 2022.

The North Pacific commercial fishing fleet is in need of a major upgrade.

Work should be completed on three new vessels each year between 2017 to 2021, including major refurbishing and retrofitting projects, and by 2022, the annual number of anticipated projects should increase to five per year, according to a report prepared by the McDowell Group, who was contracted by the Port of Seattle to analyze the commercial fishing fleet.

The report predicts the number of anticipated projects to increase at this similar rate "into the foreseeable future," which is a vast improvement over the rate from the last 15 years of less than one vessel per year.

Currently the fleet has 414 federally permitted vessels of over 58 feet in length. The report projects a total of 37 new vessel projects from 2017 to 2026.

Since 2000, 19 North Pacific fishing vessels over 58 feet have been built or significantly modified and about one-third of these vessel projects were in Washington state shipyards.

The new fleet upgrades will allow for "new, more sophisticated processing capacity, as well as increase fuel efficiency ... produce revenues needed to support the cost of a new vessel ... costs associated with safety regulations and general maintenance are typically lower," said the report.

Let's talk money

"The estimated replacement value of the entire North Pacific commercial fishing fleet of vessels over 58 feet in length, including recent builds, totals approximately $11.3 billion (€10.7 billion).

The cost to replace vessels in the fleet exceeding 30 years old is about $9 billion (€8.5 billion). Of these vessels, the replacement costs of those built over 40 years ago is $4.4 billion (€4.2 billion)," according to the report released this month.

The report predicts "$1.6 billion (€1.5 billion) in modernization projects will be completed within the next ten years.

Consolidation is anticipated in every fleet. In some cases, vessels will be retired without replacement, and in others two or more vessels will be replaced with a single larger or more efficient vessel.

The average vessel length ranges from 96 feet for smaller trawlers to over 400 feet for floating processors.

Average 2014 gross revenues ranged from $2 million (€ 1.9 million) for Bering Sea/Aleutian Island (BSAI) trawl vessels to $16 million (€15.1 million) for American Fisheries Act (AFA) catcher/processors.

Current average vessel replacement costs vary widely by fishery and range between $15 - 130 million  (€14.2 - 122.6 million)

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