New Bedford, Massachusetts-based Blue Harvest Fisheries has completed the purchase of its newest groundfish vessel, the Nobska, the first of company’s new investments to upgrade its groundfish operations.

Blue Harvest is capped in terms of it participation in the scallop fishery, restricting its ability to grow through its scallop business. As a result the company has been selling off its scallop harvesting assets, building a new, nine-boat fleet of groundfish trawlers.

The trawler replaces an older Blue Harvest vessel, also named the Nobska, which suffered a fire in 2021. The vessel was declared a total loss at an estimated $2.4 million (€2.2 million).

The new vessel purchase is part of the company’s strategy to build a new, modern fleet.

"By investing in newer vessels that can spend more days fishing every year, run more efficiently, and require less maintenance, Blue Harvest hopes to maintain its position as an innovator in the New England groundfish fishery," the company said in a statement.

The new Nobska will fish for groundfish in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank, landing its catch in both New Bedford and Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Blue Harvest will also be working in the coming weeks to transfer the groundfish permit from the old Nobska to the replacement vessel.

The Nobska, built in 2019 in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and originally known as the Francis Dawn, is equipped with a slurry ice/vat system that allows it to keep groundfish fresher for longer, and to land a higher-quality product at the dock, the company said.

The company believes the upgrading of its trawler fleet and fuller utilization of haddock and other groundfish will be welcomed by US foodservice and retail buyers, Chip Wilson, company CEO, told IntraFish in March 2022 interview.

"The fishery itself hasn't produced a volume with a level of consistency that [allowed] this industry to reach out into the various markets in the country in the way it did in the past," he said.

"So, we're going to be developing that market as we increase what we're doing, and I think that ultimately that is going to create opportunities for independent fishermen [and] for others that could come in and invest in additional processing capacity in New England."

Last August, US-based Daniels Trawlers, which supplies scallops to Cooke-owned Wanchese Fish Company, acquired a scallop vessel from Blue Harvest Fisheries, which is backed by private equity firm Bregal Partners, also a backer of Alaska pollock harvesting giant American Seafoods.

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