Scotland’s biggest fishing company relies on Scanmar equipment for successful operations

The northern North Sea fishing grounds are recognised as some of the finest fish producing grounds in Europe and are therefore popular with fishing vessel owners over a wide geographical area.

But few fishing companies can claim to have greater investment in the pelagic and demersal fisheries of these grounds than the Lunar Fishing Company in Peterhead, Scotland, who, as well as owning a demersal pair team of trawlers (Harvest & Ocean Harvest) and a single fly shooter (Tranquillity, ex- Anders Nees of Denmark), also own the impressive 69.3m pelagic purser/trawler Lunar Bow.

But the major investment in local fisheries doesn’t halt there as, of October 2016, Lunar Bow will be joined by the new Kings’ Cross and Pathway – both 78.8m and both being built at Karstensen’s Yard in Denmark, with the latter vessel due for delivery in the summer of 2017.

The Lunar Fishing Co. Ltd. are also involved in a Canadian-based project where they are owners of a purse seine vessel there.

So, at this present time, Lunar Bow remains the company’s flagship – until the arrival of the new 78m fleet additions – and it is the ongoing success of this vessel that is a fine example of a how to run a fishing venture professionally and viably.

Built in 2008 in Flekefjord, Norway, the Vik-Sandvik designed Lunar Bow is powered by a Wartsilla V12 6,000kW main engine and its focus is the mackerel, herring and blue whiting fisheries.

In fact, in the early season mackerel fisheries in September Lunar Bow is the only pelagic vessel in Scotland to operate a purse seine fishery to meet market demand as the higher quality of pursed fish commands better prices at this time of the season, also due to a higher oil content during this time.

An additional factor is that early in the season the mackerel are generally still higher in the deep water — making the fish available in more workable ‘marks’ which provides a better opportunity to catch using the purse.

However, by mid-October/early November, when the mackerel come further south around Shetland, the marks get heavier and, as they come around the coast, they tend to be in shallower waters which makes trawling a better option for those six weeks so as to avoid damaging the purse net.

“We can definitely see this in our export markets – particularly to Japan,” Lunar Bow skipper A.J. Buchan said.

“While we ourselves operate midwater trawl fisheries for herring, blue whiting and more than half of the mackerel season, we can see that the early-season purse mackerel fishing provides better quality flesh on the mackerel with, for example, no blood spots or signs of trauma affecting the flesh yield or fillets,” he added.

Scanmar and Lunar Bow

Commenting on the Scanmar installations that play such an important role in the day-to-day operation on board his vessel, A.J. Buchan explained that due to the high performance of various equipment that they have tested with Scanmar, its unsurprising to learn that they now have more or less the ‘full suite’ of Norwegian electronics experts’ gear installed.

“There are plenty of different brands of similar electronic products available to fishermen nowadays, but I can only go with what I see with my own eyes when it comes to picking the best.”

“Slowly over time we kept adding to our Scanmar package and now we have two TrawlEye systems, SuperCatch sensors, depth sensors (particularly useful in the purse seine fishery) and we have recently trialled the new ‘Stretch’ sensors which are more or less still in prototype and are designed to measure the distance the fish are travelling back to the bag (i.e. fish caught early in a two travel back approximately 80m but this distance shortens as the tension and stress on the bag increases).

“There are many compliments I could pay about Scanmar’s technology but from a fisherman’s viewpoint, perhaps the most important one is also a very basic one in that the ‘ping’ time has been shortened – meaning that the information and data that is being returned from the gear back to the wheelhouse is even quicker and still incredibly reliable,” he said, adding that depth or distance seemed to provide no challenge to this system.

“In the blue whiting fishery, we sometimes have to shoot 200m of singles followed by 1,350m of wire and yet the data reaction times and responses from the sensors remain excellent.”

In a final comment, A.J. said that after sales service was also a big attraction for Scanmar customers.

“We’re lucky in Peterhead to have George Youngson heading up Scanmar UK here and he is always at the end of the phone or indeed down onboard the boat, checking if we’re happy with everything or if there is anything that can be improved upon.

“Skippers everywhere will tell you that this kind of service is priceless,” he said.

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