THE launch of the Sparkling Star trawler in Whitby at the weekend was described as ‘symbolic of unprecedented optimism in the UK fishing industry’.
The new vessel is part of a partnership between Hull based Pearson Electrical and Whitby trawler manufacturer Parkol Marine Engineering.
It is one of 10 new vessels Parkol has on order from fishing fleets across the UK and Ireland, and was commissioned by Scottish skipper and first-time owner James Corbett – backed by major player Don Fishing – who will be operating out of Ullapool, in the north of Scotland.
The deal is the result of ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ in UK fisheries, according to Parkol director and engineering manager Andrew Oliver.
He said that plentiful fish stocks and post-Brexit optimism that the UK may regain at least some control of its waters, as a result of the ongoing exit negotiations with Europe, are creating unprecedented demand.
Parkol’s order book is currently full until 2021 and it is building four new trawlers a year – twice its usual number. It has recently opened a second manufacturing base in Middlesbrough, which Pearson Electrical – commissioned to support the electrical wiring, maintenance and refitting work on the trawlers – will also be servicing.
‘The fishing industry is very buoyant at the moment,’ said Oliver. ‘There’s really no let-up, and people are still feeling very confident and wanting to order boats.
‘While the fishing industry has had many knock-backs in the past and there is always concern that our fisheries may once again be used as a bargaining tool in Europe, we’re finding that UK trawler owners are largely living in hope.
‘I think they’re taking the view that it can’t get any worse than it was before, and at least Brexit is a step forward, so they are ploughing on regardless.’
Parkol is one of only two major trawler manufacturers in the UK, and Oliver added that trawler launches like this one, which took place on Saturday, are always special.
‘It’s always a proud and symbolic moment when a new trawler gets launched. It denotes real positivity and hope.’
The Sparkling Star has been bought by seasoned skipper James Corbett, in partnership with Peterhead based fish selling and vessel management company, Don Fishing.
For Corbett, it marks the fulfilment of a lifelong dream, and there was a real sense of occasion around the launch, as his extended family attended, in full Scottish regalia, for a special ceremony to mark the occasion.
This included the boat being blessed by a minister from the Mission to Seafarers north of the border.
‘I’m from a fishing village in the north of Scotland called Kinlochbervie and have worked on the deck and latterly as a skipper of various boats for the past 30 years,’ said Corbett.
‘Ever since I started out, I’ve dreamed of owning my own boat, and the completion of the Sparkling Star marks the culmination of all that – making my family first generation owners.’
The boat will now have its masts fitted over the next few weeks, ready for Corbett to sail it north at the end of November, and straight into commission, fishing for ground stocks such as monkfish off Scotland’s north-west coast.
‘The industry is really booming back home and the fish stocks are the best I’ve known since I’ve been skippering,’ he said.
This week, marine, industrial and hazardous area specialists Pearson Electrical will commence work on the next vessel in the Parkol production line – the Summer Rose trawler, destined for Oban.
Managing director Mark Pearson said: ‘The Sparkling Star’s launch was a fantastic occasion and a special moment for Pearson Electrical as a company.
‘It’s our privilege to be part of both a historically positive time in the UK fishing industry, and the unfolding story of Parkol, which is one of the most respected trawler manufacturers in the UK.
‘Our companies have real synergy – both in terms of our marine experience and connections, and the way we operate, as hands-on family businesses. It really is our privilege to be involved in this unprecedented run of orders they’re experiencing.’
Picture: Mark Pearson in front of the Sparkling Star