August 1, 2016

FISH EXPO-Seattle: in search of new technology

Several state-of-the-art fishery and marine industry equipment were unveiled during the FISH EXPO-Seattle which was held in Washington on Sep. 28-30, 1995. These include an incinerating marine toilet, a Global Positioning System-based survival system, a small-boat processing equipment and color-screen radar system.
Every year manufacturers bring an impressive assortment of new equipment to FISH EXPO. We asked boats and gear specialist Charles Summers to walk the aisles and report on what he found.

Many marine industry suppliers manning booths at FISH EXPO-Seattle during its Sept. 28-30 run claimed to have this year’s hottest new product, but only Carol McFarland of Research Products/Blankenship met the temperature test with her 1,400 [degrees] incinerating marine toilet.

The electrically powered Incinolet uses no water and eliminates holding tank and overboard discharge problems. A plastic liner inside the bowl captures the waste, and instead of flushing with water, a foot pedal drops the liner and contents into an incinerator chamber below. With the push of a button, the waste is reduced to nothing but a few ashes and some odorless exhaust.

A U. S. Coast Guard-certified work boat model designed for a crew of eight sells for $1,899. Despite the high burning temperature, McFarland reported “no toasted buns when used during the incineration cycle.” The company is located in Dallas, Texas.

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Technological Triumphs

As usual, electronics offered the largest single collection of technological advancements at the show. Furuno, for instance, used FISH EXPO to introduce a total of seven new radar and communications products for 1996.

Topping the list was its FR/FAR-2805 series radar with a 28″ color screen. Although mounted on a free-standing floor base at the show, the radar itself is still table-top size.

“It doesn’t take up much room and has an enormously large viewing and plotting surface that is easy to see from any place in the wheelhouse,” says Marketing Manager Roy Thompson. “It also has color, which is easier on the eyes, and it’s easy to operate. Everything is automatic. Plus, it will acquire up to 20 of the most threatening targets, store their position, track them and represent them onscreen with vectors. For fishermen on grounds with 80 boats scooting around in different directions, this is a godsend.”

Furuno is still awaiting final FCC approval, but Thompson expects permission to begin shipping the new radar within a couple of months.

In addition to advancing different technologies, some manufacturers have combined them in some new products for 1996. For instance, Northstar Technologies has brought together 12-channel GPS with a dual-channel differential receiver and added a chart plotter, all of which can locate positions within 3 meters and speeds to .1 knot.

The 951 XD’s GPS continuously uses every satellite in view and searches for others as they come over the horizon to provide strong, uninterrupted signal reception. The fully automatic receiver uses two channels to search for and lock onto the best differential transmitter.

Collected navigational data is then displayed in chart form on a high-resolution, high-contrast screen. Control buttons allow panning across the chart, as well as zooming in and out, along with a variety of other standard and custom functions.

Alden Electronics has combined GPS and EPIRB technology to provide a new safety product. The SATFIND-406 GPIRB builds on the existing SATFIND-406 Survival EPIRB by adding a GPS receiver.

In a distress situation, the unit operates as a normal Category 1 EPIRB, but it also receives and transmits its own location. “It takes the `search’ out of search and rescue,” says Vice President George Lariviere.

COSPAS-SARSAT system orbiting satellites do not provide continuous coverage, and detection times range from 30 minutes to 2 hours. On the other hand, geostationary satellites are unable to determine beacon location without relative motion between the beacon and the satellite.

Using both orbiting and stationary satellites, however, results in global distress alerting, immediate detection and a location accuracy of 100 meters, according to Alden. The SATFIND-406 GPIRB can also be used in a non-distress mode and interface with an on-board navigational display or printer.

Electronics was a topic of discussion at engine manufacturers’ booths, too. Caterpillar, for example, prominently displayed its new 3500 and 3176 series of electronically controlled models. The engines are designed to reduce emissions (meeting proposed 1999 marine standards) and fuel consumption, as well as increase performance.

“The advantage of the electronics is the ability to get more horsepower out of the engine,” says Sales Representative Bob Wahlfeld. “Not because the engine is necessarily stronger at the top end, but because we are able to control the engine through the whole r.p.m. and horsepower range. It is run by a computer which can select the best air and fuel mix and the best timing for whatever conditions the engine is operating under.”

The 600-h.p. version of the 3176 will likely be a particularly popular choice for Bristol Bay boats. It weighs 2,300 lbs. without the gear, about 1,000 Ibs. less than other engines in that horsepower range, according to Wahlfeld, and the price is not much different from a mechanical engine of the same size.

New Boats

Aire of Boise, Idaho, was a first-time boat-builder exhibitor. The company’s 26′ x 10′ Sabercat inflatable work platform is being marketed for any application where payload, stability and shallow draft are primary requirements. Commercial dive fisheries and tender duties for large fishing vessels were special targets during FISH EXPO.

The marine-grade aluminum main deck, helm station and engine compartment rest on top of two inflated tubes made of 42-oz. PVC-coated polyester and containing eight air chambers. Builders claim the boat will carry over 3,000 lbs. on its 20′ x 8′ cargo deck and still operate in 12″ of water.

Equipped with a 300-h.p. gas inboard engine and jet drive, the Sabercat sells for $37,000. A variety of accessories and power options is available, including an outboard engine.

Dan King, owner of Pacific Skiffs of Marysville, Wash., was another newcomer this year with his 22′ welded aluminum skiff. A competitive price tag of only $5,995 received some serious consideration from economy-minded fishermen in the small-boat market.

Construction is of 3/16″ aluminum throughout with either a self-bailing work deck or four cargo bins on each side of a 10″ x 10″ centerline tank. A large 2 3/4″ oval gunwale adds strength and provides a smooth, no-snag surface for working over the side with nets and lines. A scalloped tie rail shelf mid-way down the inside for securing lines and nets also acts as a hull stiffener.

Both the 1,070-lb. 22′ model and the 970lb. 20′ version are designed for either single- or twin-outboard power. The 6′-wide bottom and 3″ deadrise make these boats stable, easy to plane and able to operate in shallow water.

Fishermen with remodeling or new construction projects found a different cabin door option from Freeman Marine Equipment of Gold Beach, Ore. While hinged exterior cabin doors take up valuable space to swing and must be secured all the way open or closed, Freeman’s new sliding door solves both problems. Not only does the aluminum-framed glass door slide easily out of the way alongside the adjacent bulkhead, but rotating the handle actuates a cammed mechanism in the bottom track that stops and locks the door at any point.

The unit is constructed of .1 60″-thick aluminum and available in a painted (Stirling or All-grip) or unpainted finish. The fully gasketed door panel is insulated with rigid foam, and the glass can be laminated or tempered, tinted or clear, or up to 1/2″-thick thermal pane.

The doors come with frame and hardware ready to install, and prices start at $3,200, depending on options. The standard size is 24″ x 66″, but the doors can be built to custom sizes.

On-board Processing

There was increased interest in on-board processing equipment this year, as many fishermen sought ways to add value and improve the quality of their catch. For example, Fish-Matters, a Seattle-area company, introduced the GutBuster.

Using a series of brushes and high-pressure water, the hydraulically operated machine cleans the body cavity of pollock, rockfish, mackerel, salmon and cod. In addition to increasing shelf life, the GutBuster claims to significantly reduce injuries to processing personnel, such as accidents with the sharp knives normally used in manual cleaning operations, plus lessen fatigue and repetitive stress problems.

“We’re concentrating on helping the small fishermen,” says Marketing and Sales Manager Girma Demissie, “so they can process their own fish.”

The unit shown at FISH EXPO sells for $4,600, can be installed in a few minutes and comes with a 90-day warranty. Additional brushes to handle halibut and other flatfish are being developed, according to Demissie, and a heading and gutting machine designed specifically for small-boat applications will be available soon.

CP Food Machinery, a first-time exhibitor from Denmark, attracted attention with a compact 5′ x 3′ x 2′ splitting machine with potential for adaptation to the cramped quarters of smaller fishing boats.

“They don’t understand how we can do it with such a small machine like that,” says General Sales Manger Frank Nielsen, referring to the American fishermen who stopped to check it out. “I don’t think there would be any problem adapting to onboard use, even if we had to convert it to hydraulics. We are also working on a fillet machine that is only 1′ longer.”

In addition to the usual circular knife, the $45,000 splitter features straight knives that cut much closer to the bone, reducing waste and increasing yield. Neilsen adds that U.S. fisherman seem more interested now in quality and yield, and may be a good market for European equipment already developed with those priorities.

For on-board freezing of value-added products, Farexcel Freezing Systems Limited of Langley, B.C., offered a 7′-long, 40″wide and 36″-high combination storage and plate freezer. Vice President Hans Elfert reports that Canadian prawn fishermen use the compact, on-deck unit to freeze 80 Ibs. to 90 lbs. of their product in 1-kilogram boxes in three hours.

“It will maintain -40 [degrees] F inside the box,” says Elfert. “It is designed with a seawater cooled condenser unit which is very efficient, but in tropical waters you might have to go up to -30 [degrees].”

Three freezer plates form two shelves at the top of the back wall, and the rest of the 36-cu.-ft. interior is available for storage. The unit weighs about 500 lbs., runs off a 5-kw single- or three-phase generator and sells for $5,850.

Finally, for those in fisheries where seals, sea lions and other marine mammals are major pests, Orcaworks of Kirkland, Wash., introduced a 350-lb. fiberglass replica of a killer whale. Relying on the orca’s dominant position at the top of the food chain, the device uses simple fear to protect fish farms and shellfish beds as well as seine or trawl nets.

Two styles are available: Orca I is anchored as a stationary “resting” whale; Orca II is towed behind a boat to represent a “swimming” whale. Both 16′-long styles are also available as adult juvenile males.

Tests continue to prove the Orca’s effectiveness, according to Orcaworks partner James Ehmann, and new areas for testing are being investigated. “We come to shows like this,” he says, “and leave with more application ideas than when we arrived.”

For those who use attendance at FISH EXPO as an informal gauge of the fishing industry‘s health, the show registered nearly 25,000 people. As always, that figure includes both visitors and booth personnel. FISH EXPO hasn’t numbered that many attendees since 1989.

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