Spain rebuilding freezer trawler fleet


Pilar Caride, SeafoodSourcecontributing editor, reporting from Vigo, Spain

Published on
August 7, 2014

Spanish fishing companies and associations, along with the Galician government, are working together on a new EUR 2.2 million (USD 2.95 million) which aims to recover the lost competitiveness of the freezer trawler.

The President of ACEMIX, Fishing Community Companies and Joint Ventures Association recently announced the launching of the Aralfutur project at a conference in Vigo. The aim, he said, was to revitalize an industry that is made of vessels that were mostly built in the 1980’s.

“The objective is to recover the competitiveness in all aspects of the fleet, looking for energy efficiency, operative aspects in the factory, refrigeration and electric system,” he said. “To try to explore all the elements of the ship and draw up a clean sheet of paper to start building the trawler of the future from research, development and innovation.”

The president of the Port of Vigo Shipowners’ Association, Francisco Javier Touza, explained the difficulties of this fleet, noting the vessels are reaching a high average age and there aren´t any funds for new building. The high price of the fuel is another problem, and he said it is neither possible nor convenient to increase catches in order to avoid flooding markets. All this was what encouraged them to fund this project with the idea of designing an energy-efficient trawler.

Galician companies related to the naval sector and shipowners are involved in this project. It also has the support of the Galician government (Xunta de Galicia) and the Technological Center for the Industrial Development (CDTI, in Spanish) through the “Feder-Interconecta Galicia 2013” Program, plus funding from FEDER (European Regional Development Fund).

The Spanish trawler fleet represents 12 percent of the national census, with 1,038 trawlers employing over 8,000 people, according to data from the Spanish Fishing Confederation (CEPESCA). The freezer trawler fleet has 42 units. Officials said four years ago CEPESCA considered a project for replacing 100 vessels which were more than 25 years old, but they didn’t do the project because of problems resulting from the economic crisis.

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