C&P Trawlers submits highest bid for Blue Harvest’s fishing vessels

The interior of one of Blue Harvest's fishing vessel

New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based C&P Trawlers has won the bankruptcy auction for Blue Harvest’s fishing vessels, officially bringing Blue Harvest's bid to be a dominating force in the region's groundfish industry to a close. 

According to a court transcript, C&P Trawlers, represented by Cassie Canastra – who according to LinkedIn also serves as the director of operations for New Bedford’s Buyers and Sellers Exchange (BASE) auction house – submitted the winning bid of USD 12 million (EUR 11.2 million) for the vessels. C&P Trawlers, a company incorporated on 26 October 2023, beat out multiple other bidders for the property, with the O’Hara Corporation submitting the second-place bid of USD 11.25 million (EUR 10.5 million).

Other auction participants included Lund’s Fisheries, Channel Fish, Pier Fish Co., The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, and Spearhead Fisheries. The auction result is still subject to court confirmation following due diligence.

The auction, which took place on 6 November, came just over two months news surfaced that Blue Harvest Fisheries planned to shut down all of its fishing operations. Soon after, Blue Harvest filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and began the process of selling off its assets to compensate its creditors. 

The auction of Blue Harvest’s vessels and permits will likely not cover the company’s debts, which it listed at landing between USD 100 million and USD 500 million (EUR 94.6 million and EUR 473 million). Blue Harvest was majority owned by Bregal Partners, a U.S. private equity firm, which claims it is owed more than USD 200 million (EUR 186 million).

This isn’t the first time that individuals associated with BASE have tried to purchase fishing vessels in New Bedford sold under financial pressure. Blue Harvest first acquired a number of its fishing vessels from Carlos Rafael – a.k.a. the “Codfather” – after he was forced to sell his fishing fleet upon pleading guilty in 2017 to falsifying fish quotas, tax evasion, and conspiracy.

BASE had received the right of first refusal to Rafael’s vessels in 2018 from Northeast Fishery Sector Inc., and then made its own offer on the vessels. At the time, BASE also blocked the sale of Rafael’s vessels to Blue Harvest before ultimately withdrawing its offer and the right of first refusal, citing potential litigation from Blue Harvest. 

At the time, BASE said it saw the fleet acquisition as ... 

Photo courtesy of Blue Harvest

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