Shrimp trawl setup as good as new after two years

Shrimp trawls as good as new after two years Newfoundland Victor is still fishing with the same Vónin trawls that were supplied when the ship was delivered new in early 2017. Photo: Vónin

Delivered at the beginning of 2017 and designed to fish shrimp all year round, Newfoundland Victor operates across different areas and fishing grounds that range from practically clean to rugged ground where gear damage is inevitable.

Speaking at the end of a 26-day, 680 tonne trip, skipper Mark Hartery said that Newfoundland Victor is still fishing with the Vónin 2014 trawls that were delivered to it in January last year.

“We fish from just north of Newfoundland, up to Labrador and into the Arctic on the Canadian side between Baffin Island. We have to manage fishing different areas and quotas, working our way north. Because of the time of the year and the sea ice, we’ll soon be working our way back south, cleaning up our quota in each region in turn,” he said.

“When you’re producing at sea, there’s such a thing as too much,‘ he said, and explained that catch rates can vary significantly, although 10-12 tonnes in a tow is the preferred amount to keep the factory deck working and to maintain quality standards. At times you can have that in twenty minutes with one trawl. At other times you can tow for six hours with two trawls and not have that.”

“We work across so many different bottom types and we sometimes work some very uneven, rugged ground, and if you play with fire and you’re going to get burned. Sooner or later you’re going to do some damage. Other times we can have a full trip with no damage. But there’s no such thing as no-maintenance. Everything that moves is going to wear. We do a lot of maintenance, and the trawls we use are made in high-strength twines that reduce the water resistance.”

Mark Hartery expects to see a 70 metre spread between the doors with the trawls towed on 35 metre bridles and with a 10-12 metre headline height. While the Vónin 2014 trawls designed with the flexibility to be rigged for maximised height or spread, in practise the gear is rigged for a trip or a week.

“We can manipulate the gear, depending on the time of year and especially when you’re fishing far to the north in the Arctic, at night the shrimp are off the bottom and you need all the height you can get and always wish for a little more. But we find a happy medium between height and spread as it takes time to make changes to the gear,” he said, and added that although plenty of maintenance has gone into them and sections have been replaced, the Vónin 2014 trawls on board Newfoundland Victor are still considered to be new – and still have plenty of life in them.

The complete gear package came from Vónin, including codends, bridles, doors and sorting grids.

“These get rid of most of what we don’t want,” he said. “We have sensors on the grids that show the flow and the angle, and as you see the grid angle decrease, you know that there’s shrimp making its way back to the codend.”

“We can say we are repeat customers for Vónin and have been using their gear for many years. I was using Vónin trawls before on the company’s other trawler, Newfoundland Pioneer, before taking over the new ship, and had been pleased with the trawls then. We have a close working relationship with Vónin. This isn’t only about the quality of the fishing gear, but it’s also advice and troubleshooting – they are only a phone call away,” Mark Hartery said.

“It’s also not only that the trawls fish really well, as there’s also the quality of workmanship that goes into them. You can tell good workmanship, and these trawls are very good.”

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