2019 Commercial Fishing Gear and Equipment Guide
November 1, 2019
Commercial fishing is not only tough on the body, it's tough on gear and equipment, too. Excessively worn gear and equipment can eventually become a safety hazard, so it's imperative workers have tools on the job that keep them productive, and are also safe to use.
And with the holidays just around the corner, this guide to newer and trending commercial fishing gear could help you get outfitted for the next season, with equipment to keep you and your crew both safe and productive.
Among the companies with newer product offerings is NOMAR Alaska, a Homer-based retailer and manufacturer of fisheries gear, clothing and other products.
"We make a lot of stuff," company founder Kate Mitchell told Fishermen's News.
"The item to bring to the fisherman's attention this year would be our 'bait bag'," she continued. "Many a seasoned fisherman is used to the plastic cups to hold bait; NOMAR builds a heavy-duty, industrial mesh bait bag that would replace plastic bait containers."
NOMAR, which says that its bag is the highest quality one on the market, created the bags with a design that keeps out insects. As crab chew on the bag, it grinds and releases more scent and meat, thereby attracting more crab to the pot, according to the company.
The bag comes in two sizes: the smaller version is 12 inches by 14 inches, uses a soft 72 pound braided line to cinch, and is great for cod pots, according to NOMAR. The larger bag, which measures 14 inches by 18 inches, has 72 pound stiff gangion line to cinch, and is suited for a long soak in a crab pot.
"Easy to fill, easy to clean, store in a small space," Mitchell said. "In use, they keep the sand fleas out of the bait. Tough enough for a cod to chew, or crab to pinch, small enough mesh to hold the bait on a long soak when necessary."
The bags typically sell for $6.40 apiece, but the company does offer a quantity discount. Pricing information is available at nomaralaska.com.
"The number of women in fisheries is growing, and gear built by women, for women is a fast-growing category," salmon Sisters spokesman Matt Aboussie said.
salmon Sisters is run by co-founders, fishermen and sisters Emma and Claire, with support from an all-woman team. Their family earns its livelihood harvesting wild seafood from Alaska's waters. Emma and Claire have worked on commercial fishing boats since they were young, and still fish each summer while running salmon Sisters.
The company recently debuted one new product and anticipates launching another in the coming months. Already on the market is salmon Sisters' metal colored Maris hoodie, made in collaboration with gear manufacturer Grundéns.
The insulating midlayer garment is designed to be worn under fishing bibs and rain gear, and is made for warmth and all-day comfort at sea, complete with an anchor print on one arm and a leather salmon Sisters patch on the other.
Also available is a metal-colored tight made for warmth and all-day comfort at sea, complete with an all-over nautical print. Both the hoodie and tights are available for $60 each at aksalmonsisters.com.
Next spring, the company expects to debut its two new styles of work footwear: a six-inch ankle boot and a taller 15-inch boot. The slip-resistant, low-cut deck boot will retail for $100 and be available in yellow with celestial sea print; light blue with mermaid print, and white with octopus print. The taller boot, which will cost $140, is designed specifically for a woman's fit, according to the company, and will be available with a mermaid print.
The design, according to the company, offers flexible, all-day comfort and protection against harsh weather and work environments. salmon Sisters says that it's boots are waterproof, lightweight and designed to keep female fishermen and boaters sure-footed on the water.
Grundéns, the family-owned fishing gear maker working with salmon Sisters, has a couple of new products of its own that it brought to market over the past 12 months, one of which is a bib that the company says is impervious to rain, spray, wind and grime, but is still able to provide a relaxed fit and athletic movement for fishermen.
The other product is a durable jacket that Grundéns says has a fit that gives fishermen the ability to layer underneath and keep working in the face of everything the sea throws their way.
"Both the Hauler Bib and Hauler Jacket debuted earlier this year," Grundéns spokesman Cory Lowe said. "They are double-sided PVC pieces, so they are extremely durable. We've had other double-sided offerings in the past, but this addressed some fit issues and offers color-blocking that quite a few customers have requested."
Lowe also said that the company's Neptune line of products, which includes various styles of fishing jackets and pants, has been especially popular with commercial fishermen over the last few years due to its lightweight construction.
"We've recently added both Neptune Thermo, which is insulated with a fleece lining, and Women's Neptune to the line, offering a wider array of style choices for both males and females," he said.
More information about Grundéns' product line can be found at Grundéns.com.
Refrigerated Seawater Systems
In Bristol Bay, the adding of refrigerated seawater systems, or RSW, to commercial vessels has been an increasing trend over the past couple of years, particularly since programs have emerged to provide grants and rebates to fishers who install RSWs.
"Fishermen want to make sure the fish coming off their boat are the highest quality they can be, but there's also strong financial incentives," explained Andy Wink, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional seafood Development Association, an organization that does marketing and fishery development projects.
"A lot of companies will pay 20 cents or more bonus for chilled fish, on top of the base price. If you catch 200,000 or 300,000 pounds in a season, that really adds up," Wink said.
"There are a few processors that will only buy chilled fish. So in order to sell to that market, you need either RSW or you need to use ice," he explained.
Over the past year-plus, the addition of refrigerated seawater systems to vessels has helped fishermen deliver more chilled fish than ever before, driving overall quality – and prices – up substantially.
Wink's organization isn't involved in unit manufacturing, but does execute projects related to chilling and RSW in Bristol Bay. He said that boats and RSW both seem to be getting bigger and that there are two brands of refrigerated seawater systems that over the past year have seemed to be leading the way in popularity: Integrated Marine Systems, commonly known as IMS; and Pacific West Refrigeration, or Pac West.
Saskatchewan, Canada-based Pacific West manufactures four types of RSWs, including hydraulic drive, diesel drive, belt drive and electric drive. One, a 7.5-ton hydraulic RSW, is specially geared toward the Bristol Bay market. One of the features that stands out about the product's drive system is the ease in which the unit can withstand hydraulic pressure interruptions, according to Pac West.
For example, in a typical Bristol Bay setup, a priority valve splits available hydraulic oil between a bow thruster circuit and the RSW hydraulic drive circuit. The Pac West unit can handle the resulting disruption of flow/pressure to the compressor drive motor in a very forgiving manner, the company says.
Seattle-based Integrated Marine makes and sells both standard RSW and live-delivery RSW systems that come in a range of sizes.
IMS offers self-contained RSW systems and systems with remote-mount chillers in a wide range of capacities and drive configurations. The company says that the benefit of RSWs is that the catch is chilled more rapidly than with ice, and the risk of inadvertently freezing is avoided since the temperature of the water can be controlled.
The company's live delivery RSW system, used for species like crab and lobster, has titanium chillers that are outfitted with aeration and circulation systems to maintain the live product. The temperature in the holds can be adjusted to match the environment at the depth where the seafood was caught.