Boosting purse seine business

With around six hundred large tuna purse seiners active around the equator in three oceans, there are prospects for French fishing gear supplier Le Drezen to expand beyond the French market, according to managing director Max Dufour.

“We have a great deal of experience of the tuna business and while the exchange rate is not quite as favourable as it has been, it is now stable. So we are expanding and looking to diversify into other markets,” he said.

“Le Drezen gear has a reputation for catching efficiently, and in addition we have the advantage of producing our purse seine gear from quality materials, so our gear lasts,” he said.

“A new purse seine costs in the region of $800,000, so customers expect quality and the 25-30% longer working lifetime that we can offer makes a big difference as maintenance costs are lower.”

He commented that in speaking to operators outside the French market where Le Drezen has been the main supplier, he has been surprised at their high gear maintenance costs, which he attributed primarily to poorer quality twine used to make the netting.

LeDrezenMaxD2306“Our netting is heatset and a lot of producers don’t do this. Le Drezen netting has very high knot stability as well as the twine itself being more stable, and the heatsetting means that there is less water ingress. If the netting is properly heatset, then the washing machine effect, with the netting under a constant process of soaking and drying, is reduced so it has a longer lifetime.”

He said that it would be possible to skip this part of the process to keep initial costs down, but this is a false economy that results in higher maintenance costs later, along with downtime while the vessel is kept off the fishing grounds that can be between €25,000 and €50,000 per day as a a purse seiner is not fishing.

“We make sure that twine used for repairs is of exactly the same quality,” he said. “We expect to see around five years of use from a tuna purse seine. It can be longer, and it depends on the skipper, but it’s very difficult to put a figure to this, as a purse seine should be overhauled periodically and sections are replaced as required.

“Avoiding gear damage is high on the list of priorities, and scheduled maintenance is part of this so we offer service contracts so we can ensure the gear is kept in good order, which minimises maintenance costs as routine work is carried out before something becomes a problem.

“We send technical staff to the check the fishing gear either in the Indian Ocean or in Abidjan. This is about more than just selling fishing gear – it’s about keeping it effective throughout its working life.”

He said that Le Drezen’s digital simulation system for purse seine design has served the company well for some years, making it possible to optimise gear design with mesh twine sizes for optimal sinking speeds and handling characteristics.

“In the next couple of years we will have a new version available. The fishermen tell us that the simulator is accurate and what they see on the screen it is very close to what their sensors and sonars tell them about how their gear performs, but we are looking for more precision and speed with the new generation simulator,” he said, commenting that at present, simulating a purse seine is not a quick process, requiring several days of data entry to input all of the parameters, followed by another day while the computer digests the information to produce the simulation.