A ceremony steeped in tradition was held in Nelson this week to celebrate the launch of a fleet renewal project that will change the face of fishing in New Zealand.
The keel laying ceremony marks the beginning of construction of a state-of-the-art fishing vessel that will supply Aotearoa Fisheries Limited, the largest iwi-owned fisheries company.
The trawler will be owned and operated by Tauranga-based fishing company RMD and is the first of up to six new vessels that will be built as part of the $25-30 million project.
The ceremony was held at the office of Aimex, the Nelson boat-building firm constructing the technologically advanced inshore fishing trawler, which will improve productivity and minimise environmental impact.
On hand in support of the fleet renewal project was Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd CEO Carl Carrington, Aimex Managing Director Steve Sullivan and Nelson Regional Economic Development Agency Chief Executive Bill Findlater.
Carrington said that the ceremony marked the beginning of the biggest fleet renewal of its kind in New Zealand since the early 1970s.
“The average inshore fishing vessel is over 40 years old, and these new 24-metre, six crew vessels will be more fuel efficient, require less maintenance and are less susceptible to changeable weather conditions.”
Carrington said Aotearoa Fisheries looked around the world for design and build options but preferred to build the vessels locally.
“We wanted them to be built in New Zealand and we were pleased to be able to work with Aimex on this project.”
The decision to build the boats in Nelson was also applauded by Findlater , who commended Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd for its decision to keep the project local.
Sullivan is also delighted that the project is a big boost for Aimex and will benefit Nelson’s economy with new jobs and investment.
“This will give us a sustainable foundation for the future, allowing us to hire new workers and invest more in training. We congratulate Aotearoa Fisheries on its forward-thinking commitment to supporting local industry.”
Roger Rawlinson of RMD said the new vessel will create an exciting future for the family-owned company, which was created by his father Bill Rawlinson. The Rawlinson whanau are of Ngati Awa descent.
“This will help us bring young Māori and our own tamariki into the fishing business for years to come.”
The new vessel was designed by Australian company OceanTech, with the guidance of Westfleet CEO Craig Boote, one of New Zealand’s leading fishing experts.
The design is specifically suited to our challenging New Zealand fishing conditions, and it enables the use of cutting-edge sustainable technologies like Precision Seafood Harvesting which targets specific species.
It is due for completion in mid-2016 and other vessels in the seine and longline sector will follow.
The ceremony will include the laying of the keel and welding of the first piece of steel. As per boat building tradition, a minted coin was laid under the vessel by the youngest apprentice, which is to bring luck to the vessel and its owners.