Essentially the size of the vessel is directly linked to the processing and storage of the catch. Our vessels range in length from 51 to 120 metres. About 80% of the capacity of a freezertrawler is used for sorting, processing, freezing and cold-storage on-board. North Atlantic Fishing Company freezes the catch on-board, so we need to take the large processing unit and cold store with us!
The large size of our vessels is therefore related to the on-board processing and storage facilities, rather than the catching power of the vessel. The benefits of this strategy are that the fish are immediately frozen to maintain optimal freshness, whilst the efficient on-board process ensures a high-quality, protein-rich end product that is affordable, for example, in poorer countries in Africa.
Often pelagic fisheries take place far offshore and in bad weather conditions, which requires large vessels. A further benefit is that we do not constantly need to sail to and from the fishing grounds. This reduces wasted journeys and reduces our fuel use and overall carbon footprint.
Working conditions on our vessels are safe and comfortable. The ships typically have 35 to 50 people on-board, working six-hour shifts. Depending on the catch and the weather, these fishing trips can take 3 to 4 weeks at a time.
As we fish specific species in specific areas at specific times of the year, for example you may see us fishing the English Channel in December for Channel herring, which is a sub stock of North Sea herring, because at that time the quality of the herring is optimal for the market and for the fish’s sustainability.