Havfisk, the Norwegian fishing company formerly known as Aker Seafoods, is selling its last purely fresh trawler.
The company plans to sell the 45-meter Stamsund, built in 1998 by Spanish shipyard Astilleros Gondan.
The sale comes as Havfisk is awaiting for the delivery of two new vessels — freezer trawlers that can be configured for fresh — due to arrive in Q4 of this year and Q1 of 2014.
“The fresh fish trawlers have lost their competitive edge, due to changes in prices and the fact that the fish is further to the north then it used to be, meaning a longer transit and higher cost of fuel,” Olav Holst-Dyrnes, CEO of Havfisk, told Undercurrent News.
As a result, the company is selling Stamsund and reducing its total number of vessels from 11 to ten.
“This is because the new vessels will be more efficient than the old ones. This is also connected with the fresh versus combined [freezer/fresh vessels] discussion,” he said.
Havfisk has recently converted several of its other pure freezer trawlers into combination vessels, which can catch both fresh and frozen.
It is not possible to have sufficient earnings on a pure fresh-fish trawler, for two reasons, said Holst-Dyrnes.
The prices of fresh are, in general, lower than for frozen. On cod, the prices are NOK 2-3/kg lower for fresh. “Our crews are paid with a share of the vessel’s income. Low income means lower wages and problems to get the good crew.”
It might be possible to have positive earnings on a fresh-fish trawler but it is not sufficient to be able to re-invest in new vessels when needed, Holst-Dyrnes told Undercurrent. “Catch rates are lower than on combined and freezer vessels, since you must, after four days of fishing at the latest, head for port to unload.”
This means less fishing time per steaming/transit time compared to combination and freezer vessels, he said.
A normal tour is seven-eight days for a fresh fish trawler, with one-two days transit, three-four days fishing and one-two days transit back.
“On a combined trawler, the haddock and the smallest and largest cod may be frozen as these are not attractive for the fresh production done in Norway,” he said.
A combined trawler can also have longer tours: one-two days transit, seven-eight days fishing, where the first day’s catch all are frozen, then one-two days transit, said Holst-Dyrnes.
Havfisk took delivery of Gadus Poseidon (pictured), a 69m freezer trawler that can also land fresh, in July, with Gadus Njord arriving in the fourth quarter of 2013 and Gadus Neptun in early 2014.
All three vessels were built at the Norwegian shipyard Vard, with hulls based on offshore vessels, for increased fuel efficiency in tough fishing conditions.
The new vessels will replace Hekktind and Nordfjordtral, combination trawlers sold to Russia and Canada, respectively.
Havfisk also has a deal to sell fresh trawler Jergul, built in 1971 and the oldest in the company’s fleet.
The buyer for the vessel and some quota, according to Undercurrent sources, is Hermes, a fishing company based in Tromso.
The sale of its last fresh only vessel does not mean Havfisk is pulling back from fresh sales.
“We want three strong sales channels, clipfish, H&G for export for further processing and fresh,” said Holst-Dyrnes.
In the second half of the year supply of fresh cod is down significantly.
Havfisk alone had 50% of the total fresh volume in October and September is probably at the same level, said Holst-Dyrnes.
The company plans to continue harvesting fresh cod in the second half, said Holst-Dyrnes.
Consistency of supply is a general weakness of the sector, he said.
“The biggest challenge for Norway is that the bulk of the catch is always in the first ten weeks of the year,” said Holst-Dyrnes.
“If you compare to the salmon farms, they can supply 365 days a year. This means a retailer has consistent supply and can base campaigns around this.”