Photo: Dos Winkel

The Atlantic Dawn, 7 million kilos of frozen fish
per journey, in Dutch hands

The Atlantic Dawn vacuums the fishes from the nets, after which they are stored temporarily in seawater tanks with a capacity of 1,000,000 kilos of fish. The Atlantic Dawn can thus throw out its nets again. From these storage tanks, the fishes are pumped to a conveyor belt transport system and they are then sorted via the weighing machine. Fish sorted by size go directly to the 48-plate freezers where they are frozen in blocks so that they can then be automatically machine packed in boxes. This highly automated system can handle 400,000 kilos per day, with a total capacity of 7 million kilos of frozen fish in less than one month. 300,000 boxes each weighing 20 to 25 kilos are put into enormous freezers spread out over three floors. The cargo is unloaded in Las Palmas, in the Canary Islands, where the fish is stored until it is sold. This storage centre was built with European subsidies and allows fishing companies to store their catch at reduces prices. Purse seine nets are 1 kilometre long and 170 metres deep, the trawl nets are 365m long and 30m deep.

The trawler is currently trawling for blue whiting for Ireland. But the Atlantic Dawn recently changed hands becoming the property of the Dutch. The catch from this trip will be unloaded in IJmuiden, where the trawler has regularly unloaded its cargo at Daalimpex, and then the transfer to P&P will be complete. The Atlantic Dawn first entered IJmuiden in August 2000, when it came directly from the Norwegian Sterkoder wharf in Kristiansund. The ship was operated by the Irish shipowner, Kevin McHugh, who died suddenly last year (2006). McHugh also operated the ‘Veronica’ which has since become a Norwegian research ship. In IJmuiden the SO 914 drew a lot of attention. And for good reason. The ship designed by Vik & Sandvik is a stunning trawler, that looks like mega-yacht from outside and which has all the conveniences imaginable for the crew inside.

The ‘Atlantic Dawn’ has not lacked controversy. It started back when the trawler started operating. At the time there was no room on the Irish fishing register and the ship was put temporarily on a separate merchant navy register. Only when the Veronica took a flag outside the EU was it possible to make room for it in the official Irish fishing register. Environmental organisations have always kept the ship in its sights.

Fish become industrial goods