Massachusetts-based Harbor Blue acquired by Blue Harvest Fisheries, Bregal Partners

Blue Harvest Fisheries, a harvester, processor and distributor of sea scallops and other seafood products, has acquired Massachusetts-based fishing company Harbor Blue, which fishes for scallop, swordfish, tuna, crab, lobster and surf clam.

Blue Harvest Fisheries owner Bregal Partners made the announcement Monday, 21 March. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal includes Harbor Blue’s seven scallop vessels, mostly based out of New Bedford, Mass.

"The U.S. Atlantic sea scallop is unique. The word gets oversused but it's appropriate in this case, as those scallops are very large," Bregal Partners managing partner Scott Perekslis said in an interview with SeafoodSource. "The U.S. is the only place in the world you can get under 10 count per lb., and 10 to 20 per lb. are in abundance. So there really isn’t an aquaculture substitute, and that’s what like about it. It's got high value and there really aren’t any comparisons to it."

Perekslis said the purchase of Harbor Blue would help Blue Harvest secure access to the U.S. Atlantic sea scallop fishery on the U.S. eastern seaboard, and the new boats' capacity to catch finfish would help the company diversify its fishing. 

"We want to expand and diversify into other high value species, so this transaction dovetails into our broader strategy of becoming more vertically integrated," Perekslis said. "In order to please customers, we need a broader variety of offerings, and while scallops will remain our focus, we want to supplement that with other high-value, high-demand species."

The investment establishes a northern fleet for Blue Harvest, which previously purchased Peabody, a seafood company with eight scallop vessels and shoreside facilities in Newport News, Virginia, in May 2015.

 "Blue Harvest is now clearly positioned as an industry leader in terms of access to the highly valuable Atlantic sea scallop resource. The acquisition of HBS and its related infrastructure in New Bedford, Massachusetts establishes a northern fleet and complements our existing Newport News, Virginia based fleet," Blue Harvest president and CEO Jeff Davis said in a press release. "The acquisition of (Harbor Blue Seafood) is consistent with the company’s overall strategy of building a vertically integrated premium seafood company. Harbor Blue’s involvement with premium products such as bluefin tuna and swordfish expands the company’s overall product portfolio."

Blue Harvest “is devoted to the sustainable harvesting, processing, and marketing of MSC-certified premium Atlantic sea scallops and the sales of distribution of other premium seafood products” and is “committed to harvest seafood from only well managed, sustainable fisheries and further strives to have all its seafood third-party certified for sustainability,” according to its press release.

Bregal Partners, a private investment firm with USD 600 million (EUR 533.1 million) in committed capital in the seafood and healthcare sectors, remains committed to an acquisitive growth strategy, Perekslis said.

"We're always looking at different transactions and we expect to have another one for Blue Harvest in the relatveily near future," Perekslis told SeafoodSource. "We're looking to go into downstream processing and marketing as well. Our main focus, though, is scallop fishing and we remain open to purchasing another couple of scallop vessels, as we can have up to 17 and we only have 15, so looking for a few more to hit our limit."


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