By Mark Edward Nero
On Sept. 9, Blue North, a Seattle-based fishing, trading and boat-building company, christened the F/V Blue North, a fishing vessel that the company calls “the most modern, low-impact and innovative vessel to ever enter the North Pacific fishing fleet.”
The F/V Blue North has been designed with new technologies to improve the quality of harvested seafood and working conditions for fishermen and reduce its environmental impact. For example, all water and waste on the vessel is captured and treated, with nothing left behind to contaminate the ocean.
Also, a state-of-the-art engine-cooling and heat recovery system recycles water used to cool the ship’s engines, and repurposes the captured heat for creating potable water, creating hot water and heating the ship.
These features mean less fuel is required to heat the vessel and no wastewater is placed in the ocean. Engine power is monitored by a smart grid that detects electrical loads and appropriately distributes energy for maximum efficiency.
“We spared no expense when it comes to the features we included on the F/V Blue North that reduce environmental impact,” Blue North President and CEO Kenny Down said. “Not only are these practices more cost-effective, we believe that protecting our resources and environment is critical to the planet and the fishing industry.”
In addition to its new ecologically sound features, the vessel has been designed to improve working conditions for the crew. All fishing gear is inside and hauled through an interior opening in the vessel known as a “moon pool” – so that fishermen aren’t exposed to unpredictable weather and associated risks of fishing in the Bering Sea. Elevator and conveyor systems reduce the work of loading and unloading ship supplies and seafood products. Also, auto freezers eliminate the task of manually loading and unloading freezer trays.
The F/V Blue North also includes a system designed to ensure more humane harvesting of seafood: a hook-and-line fishing system ensures one fish is handled at a time, and fish on the lines are pulled into the moon pool at the center of the boat. Fish are only out of water for a few seconds before being stunned, processed and frozen on board. Hooks are removed after stunning to reduce stress to the fish.
“Stunning creates a better-tasting, more nutritious and better-quality product,” Down explained. "Research has shown that reducing stress before processing produces higher quality and healthier food for consumers, and we believe it's also a more humane way to treat the fish.”
Blue North has a long history of sustainable practices. The company's primary product, wild Alaska line-caught cod, comes from the first commercial cod fishery to be certified by the Marine Stewardship Council; this cod is designated a “Best Choice” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.