Austral Fisheries' trawler/longliner Atlas Cove

Austral Fisheries have announced that the off-season refit of their largest vessel, Atlas Cove, has exceeded expectations with results from their first fishing trip of the season achieving fuel savings of 29%.

Built in Norway in 1999, Atlas Cove started life as Østerbris, a pelagic trawler/purse seiner with a 4320kW MAK main engine driving a single shaft with variable pitch propeller.

Austral purchased her in 2014 and undertook a major conversion to a long-range trawler/longliner. This unique combination is ideally suited to the operational needs of the Heard Island fishery where she can trawl for mackerel icefish in the same trip as she can longline for Glacier 51 toothfish, as well as conducting the annual random stratified trawl survey that has been informing Australian scientists and fishery managers since 1998. The conversion was a success, but her fuel consumption remained high, which was a powerful motivator to explore for ways to improve fuel efficiency.

Additional motivation comes from the fact that Austral Fisheries is the first fishing company in the world that has completely offset its greenhouse gas emissions, when it became carbon neutral in 2016.

‘Two years ago we decided that we could not stand by and continue with business as usual in the face of our changing climate, and so we chose to completely offset our emissions by supporting a native biodiverse reforestation project in Western Australia, and started to investigate ways to lower our emissions,’ said Austral CEO, David Carter.

This led the company to invest in a major modification to the drive train, partnering with Norwegian firms, Brunvoll AS and Baatbygg AS, to de-rate the main engine, and install a new gearbox, shaft, propeller, and shaft generator/motor.

The new configuration is providing the crew with more flexibility in managing the ship’s requirements for propulsion and electrical loads under the various steaming, trawling and longlining requirements.

‘This was a really exciting project for us. It made sense financially, with a sound return on investment, as well as environmentally, by reducing our emissions in the process, commented Austral general manager Peter Stevens.

The remainder of the year will see Atlas Cove operating in longline mode, and Austral expects an annual saving of around 600,000 litres of diesel, and 1700 tonnes of CO2-e emissions, the equivalent of removing around 500 cars off the road for a year.

Source: Austral Fisheries