Elegant, efficient boats arise from the convenient collaboration between Dongara Marine, a builder that originated in the West Australian (WA) lobster fishing industry more than fifty years ago, and Southerly Designs, now renowned globally, particularly throughout Asia, for its crew/supply, patrol boats, ferries and leisure boats.
This beautiful lobster boat is a classic example arising from that collaboration, having been delivered to a very experienced South Australian (SA) fisherman.
“Although it might be easy to think Raging Bull is just another lobster boat for us,” remarked the builder, Dongara Marine, “the project really had some very special aspects to it. For one thing, it was the first boat we have built for a client outside Western Australia. So having a client from South Australia wanting to build with us gave us a great sense of pride.”
“It is our smallest lobster vessel and first single screw in several years,” Southerly told Baird Maritime. “It was also our first direct entry to the South Australia market. It was great to get back to that core simple ‘day boat style’ that built the WA lobster industry.”
The designer added that while the SA lobster fishing industry is essentially similar to that of WA in the basic respects, local techniques and operating profiles bring with then a number of modifications, adjustments and customisations to the arrangement of equipment and catch storage.
The boat’s construction faced a number of challenges, as the project coincided with some of the most severe aspects of Covid, with widespread lockdowns and border closures, and also coincided with the Chinese lobster market tumbling. The builder, however, said it also led to what is perhaps the most special and important aspect of the project: that the owners decided to proceed.
“The owners put huge faith in us, particularly given they were only ever able to visit the yard once prior to launch due to interstate travel restrictions. Basically they said, ‘We trust you to make the right choices, to do the right things,’ even on the small details.”
Dongara Marine clarified that it kept in close contact with the owners from start to finish.
“In some ways, we were quite fortunate that, being based in regional WA, we didn’t have the health impacts, lockdowns, and operational restrictions that other parts of the country did. What we learned, or perhaps more accurately what was reinforced, was that we have the internal ability to adapt and make the best of the circumstances we face.”
When asked what factors would characterise the fishing industry in the coming years, the partners identified the need for fleet renewal programs and finding a balance between investment in new vessels and changing demand.
“The management of quota allocations and its effect on the number of vessels and the will of owners to invest in those vessels is always of interest to us,” Southerly told Baird Maritime. “For the lobster industry the price downturn as a result of the China import restrictions is impacting our business in that sector.”
“In the wild fish sector,” Dongara Marine added, “we know there are still a large number of older boats in the lobster fishery so inevitably they will be replaced. We don’t expect major changes in that area with perhaps greener propulsion the main area.”
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