FEATURE | New mobile salmon processing platform under development in US
Sitka, Alaska-based Northline Seafoods has launched a new project to build a mobile commercial salmon processing platform, with construction planned to begin at the Port of Bellingham in Washington State in January 2023. Named Hannah, the platform is a vertically integrated vessel that will operate in Alaska’s Bristol Bay during the commercial fishing season.
Hannah was developed to produce higher quality fish through a more efficient process, said Northline CEO Ben Blakey.
The 400- by 100-foot (121- by 30-metre) platform will be used to deep-freeze fish whole at the fishing grounds in Bristol Bay before hauling them back to Northline’s base of Pacific Northwest operations in Bellingham, where the fish will be stored, reprocessed, and distributed year-round all from one vessel. The final product will be delivered to the market with improved quality.
Operating with a reduced environmental impact
Northline expects that 217,000 gallons (821,434 litres) of diesel fuel will be saved compared with typical fish processing and transportation methods. Also, thanks to the platform’s processing facilities, every piece of the fish is used, meaning less waste. The flash freezing process meanwhile ensures that the salmon’s skin is its own protection, minimising the need for plastic packaging. All these attributes were incorporated to ensure that Northline’s salmon processing operations will have only a minimal adverse impact on the marine environment in Bristol Bay.
The vessel will be built out of an existing barge hull that will be towed from the Gulf of Mexico to Washington. Following construction, the finished vessel will make its way to Bristol Bay where state-of-the-art technology will improve the salmon’s path from fishers to customers by consolidating freezing, shipping, storing, and reprocessing operations.
Streamlining the salmon distribution process
Northline said Hannah will be able to buy, process, ship, and store fish on a single vertically integrated platform. This eliminates the number of third-party participants Bristol Bay salmon passes through before finally reaching the customer, leading to what Northline claims will be greater transparency and better quality.
The on-board refrigeration system will allow the fish to be flash frozen whole. Thus, when the platform moves to Bellingham at the end of the season, processing can be spread out over time.
The platform’s cold storage facilities will be able to hold up to 6,473 tons (6,576 tonnes) while the daily freezer throughput is rated at 334 tons (339 tonnes) and daily ice production will be 270 tons (274 tonnes). There will be four offloading stations and six servicing positions for use by the smaller boats that will transport the catch from the fishing grounds. A helicopter pad will also be fitted.
Hannah is scheduled to commence operations as a processing platform in the spring of 2024.
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