‘A quintessential longliner’: Work begins on new tuna vessel for Klokan Fishing

Now that the Australian Marine Parks have been finalised, the Australian longline fishery is looking to invest significantly and develop opportunities.

“The Australian Marine Parks process has been ongoing for 20 years and has stifled investment,” says David Ellis, Tuna Australia CEO. “However, now that we have certainty in zoning arrangements we can now plan for the future.”

One company in the eastern tuna and billfish fishery making a major investment in the fishery is Klokan Fishing based in Port Stephens, New South Wales.

This family company is building a state-of-the-art new-generation fishing vessel, which owner John Skoljarev says is part of a move to harness growing confidence and opportunities in the fishery.

“The 24-metre longliner will be fuel-efficient, safe and stable and will have a large capacity to hold fuel, brine, live bait and ice. This boat will greatly enhance our business operations,” John told Tuna Australia.

Klokan Fishing owner John Skoljarev with the beginnings of his new tuna longliner.

Inspired by Hollywood

John came up with the initial boat design based on his experiences with previous vessels and after speaking with people in the industry about the pros and cons of their boats.

He also drew inspiration from an unlikely place—Hollywood.

“In the Days of Thunder movie, there’s a scene I like that steps through how a race car is designed and built, ensuring the car is ‘powerful, aerodynamic and with a low centre of gravity to handle well’,” John says.

“This was on my mind as I had a blank piece of paper, a ruler and pencil in front of me when I started drawing—I wanted to build a boat with state-of-the-art capacities and capabilities to be a competitive fishing machine.”

Armed with these ideas and his initial drawing, John commissioned naval architects Jon Kemp and Sam Stevens of Oceantech in Adelaide to develop the design to meet Australian Maritime Safety Authority requirements.

A rendered design of Klokan Fishing’s new tuna vessel.

The end result, after a year and a half, was an efficient design for an aft wheelhouse displacement hull.

“The boat has a relatively narrow hull for its length to help gain fuel efficiency,” says John, “and an aluminium top wheelhouse which is set down into the accommodation block as much as possible to lower the centre of gravity and minimise wind resistance without sacrificing visibility from the wheelhouse.”

‘A quintessential longliner’

Over the last 20 years, few boats have been constructed for the tuna longline industry.

The most recent was the ‘D&D’ twin hull catamaran built in 2016–2017 for Abbott Fisheries based in Narooma on the NSW south coast.

“Our boat looks more like a quintessential longliner with a single fuel-efficient Mitsubishi medium speed main engine,” John says.

“This is the first time we’ve built a new vessel, so it’s a whole new experience for us.”

CTB Industries are building the hull, due to be complete in late 2019.

Construction started in April 2019 on Kooragang Island, Newcastle, where CTB Industries are building the hull.

“The hull is being built upside down, after which it will be flipped over onto the keel and the wheelhouse will be put on,” John explains, noting that this is not the normal way to build a boat, which typically starts by ‘laying the keel’.

The hull is expected to be complete by the end of 2019, after which the boat will be moved from the Kooragang workshop to the Port Stephens wharf for fit-out.

During the boat’s construction, which is expected to take up to a year and a half, we will track its progress and provide regular photo updates. So stay tuned for the next update.

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