Keith Ingram, long time advocate of and participant in, the marine sector, will this month celebrate the 100th issue of the magazine he publishes and edits, Professional Skipper. What better time to celebrate the man himself and his commitment to the marine industry? Here, Keith talks us through his history in marine, and the long and inseparable relationship our country has with the workboat fleet.
At a time when a willing pair of hands and a strong back were a sought-after addition to any crew, a 15-year-old Keith Ingram left school and ran away to sea. First came a stint in the Royal New Zealand Navy before commercial fishing, tugs and barges, charter boats and fast ferries gave a young Ingram grounding lessons in maritime lore, for a future career in publishing once he came ashore.
Now as the publisher and editor of Professional Skipper, NZ Workboats Review and NZ Aquaculture magazines, Keith not only represents the sector with his editorial duties, he’s also one of the maritime industry’s strongest advocates.
“The New Zealand marine industry was founded on the back of the ship and workboat industry, from the early settlers and vessels of old, to our modern day fleet of work boats.” Ingram tells us.
This working fleet boasts some 3,200 vessels of all shapes and sizes working on the New Zealand coast, encompassing fast ferries, modern tugs capable of up to 70 tonnes bollard pull, to motorised barges of 500 tonnes, work boats, charter boats, a large domestic fishing fleet and equally large aquaculture fleet.
Fishing and aquaculture alone support a billion dollar industry in seafood sales and receipts. When taken with the gross turnover of the marine industry, the ship and workboat sector is the greatest contributor to the $1.5b turnover in sales for the country, making this sector well-worthy of its inclusion in the history books.
Like any sector, there are stories which could be told of successes and failures, including many tragic losses as the workboat sector has gone about the business of contributing to the local and national economy. When one considers nearly 99% of all goods arriving on, or departing our shores, travel by sea, it highlights the importance of this largely-unseen industry working on our coast.
Supporting this industry is a wide network of boat and ship repair yards, engineers, shipwrights and boat builders, as well as extensive support from electronic and engine manufacturers.
Professional Skipper magazine is about to release its 100th issue in June and is proud to be an active part of the maritime industry. Of the current challenges facing the industry Ingram is quick to point out that the question of how to rescue an ailing fishing fleet is one that needs to be addressed.
“With the average age of trawlers approaching 40 years, our vessels are getting old and out-dated, with many now unsafe. Our challenge is to be able to design a new class of trawler; one that is affordable and can be built in New Zealand by local ship builders and one that will revolutionise our inshore fishing trawler fleet.”
Keith Ingram, who has now been actively at sea or on the waterfront for 50 years, has seen or been a part of many changes on the waterfront. Some good – some bad – he is one who has never been shy of asking hard questions when the going gets rough.
“Fifty years, aye. My how time flies when you’re having fun! Roll on the next 50.”