FEATURE | New mobile salmon processing platform under development in US

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 slated to begin in January 2023 at the Port of Bellingham in Washington State. HannahThe 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, Northline CEO Ben Blakey said.

The 400-by-100-foot (121-by-30-meter) platform will be used to deep-freeze fish at the Bristol Bay fishing grounds before towing it back to Northline’s base of Pacific Northwest operations in Bellingham, where the fish will be stored, reprocessed and distributed all year round from one container. The final product will be delivered to the market with improved quality.

Work with a reduced environmental impact

Photo: Northline Seafoods

Northline expects to save 217,000 gallons (821,434 liters) of diesel fuel compared to typical fish processing and transport methods. Also, thanks to the platform’s processing facilities, every bit of the fish is used, which means less waste. The flash freezing process, meanwhile, ensures that the salmon’s skin is its own protection, minimizing the need for plastic packaging. All of these features are included 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 from an existing boat hull that will be towed from the Gulf of Mexico to Washington. After construction, the completed vessel will make its way to Bristol Bay where the latest technology will improve the salmon’s path from fishermen to customers by consolidating freezing, shipping, storage and reprocessing operations.

Simplifying 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 that Bristol Bay salmon goes through before it finally reaches the customer, leading to what Northline claims will be greater transparency and better quality.

The onboard refrigeration system will allow the fish to be frozen whole. So when the platform moves to Bellingham at the end of the season, processing can be spread over time.

The platform’s cold storage facilities will be able to hold up to 6,473 tonnes (6,576 tonnes), while daily freezer throughput is rated at 334 tonnes (339 tonnes) and daily ice production will be 270 tonnes (274 tonnes). There will be four unloading stations and six service positions for use by the smaller boats that will transport the catch from the fishing grounds. A helicopter plate will also be installed.

Hannah is scheduled to launch as a processing platform in the spring of 2024.

Photo: Northline Seafoods

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