A Seattle fisheries company has found the kinder, gentler side of long-line cod fishing. They're creating a new kind of vessel - one that's greener, meaner, more efficient and less dangerous.
Blue North has contracted with Dakota Creek Industries in Anacortes to build one of the safest most enviornmentally friendly fishing vessels in the world.
The boat was specifically developed for the Alaska cod hook-and-line fishery.
"The fish are automatically sorted and weighed. So there's a lot of new innovation and automation in the new boat," said Mike Burns, Blue North's Chairman. "So there's a lot of new innovation and automation in the new boat."
That new innovation also includes a new method of long-line cod fishing through something called a Moon Pool. It's an internal haul station that allows fishermen to pull in their catch from inside the boat.
"It is a hole about five feet in diameter right in the center of the boat and then there's a platform in there that comes up. It's kind of like being in the bottom of an elevator shaft," said Burns.
For the last century, fishermen have been tethered to the side of the vessel as they pull up the lines, gaff the cod, process and freeze them.
"You get really cold and wet. You'll be working and a wave comes and you just get completely drenched," recalled Pat Burns, Blue North's Vice President. "This is probably the most difficult job on the boat."
Blue North Fisheries is now riding the wave of the future. The Burns brothers knew some of their older vessels had run their course. So they visited Norway where the internal haul system and green technology was first developed and now in practice.
"I just thought this is what we need," said Pat Burns.
Once the $30 million vessel is built, what's been a traditionally outside practice will bring crews inside.
"Now crews get to be in a climate-controlled atmosphere inside the boat fishing the Bering Sea," said Blue North CEO Kenny Down.
The new vessel will also deploy hook-and-line gear, allowing one fish to be caught at a time. Processing changes also mean using more of the fish that is caught.
Building the boat is expected to create hundreds of jobs in Anacortes. The new vessel is scheduled to hit the water in October 2015.