Tokatu as she arrived at Nelson Port this morning. Photo: Kate Russell.

Largest fishing vessel arrives home

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New Zealand’s most modern deep-sea fishing vessel received a warm welcome from locals as she arrived in Nelson on Friday.

The brand new, state-of-the-art vessel docked at 9am, and is the first to be added to the country’s deep-water fleet in over 20 years.

Built for Sealord by Simek shipyard in Flekkefjord, Norway, in an extensive 16-month build project, the $70m purpose-built vessel took six-weeks to get here from Norway via the Panama Canal.

Named Tokatu from the Māori proverb “Te toka tu moana” (the rock that stands in the oceans) the vessel is designed to fish all species and will produce base products at sea.

At 81.75 metres long and 4706 gross tonnage, Tokatu will be the largest fishing vessel in New Zealand.

It is equipped with energy production equipment to allow electricity to drive the vessel at times, additional fuel saving technology and the new precision seafood harvesting technology.

Sealord board chair Whaimutu Dewes, also chair of Moana New Zealand which jointly owns Sealord, said Tokatu was reflective of Maōri interests in modernising its fishing fleet.

“The board and Sealord senior management are focussed on continuing to develop Sealord as a progressive, forward looking fishing company. This new vessel enables us to improve our operational efficiencies, continue to lead sustainable fishing practices, and provide consistent world-class products for our customers.”

Tim Pankhurst, Seafood New Zealand chief executive, said he was looking forward to seeing the new vessel.

“This is the biggest investment in a vessel New Zealand has seen. Our overall fleet is ageing and Tokatu represents a new chapter, and a significant vote of confidence in the seafood industry.”

Tokatu will complete final testing in Nelson before she is put to work on a four-week fishing trip off the West Coast of the South Island.

A ceremony will be held later in the year to formally celebrate with key stakeholders the addition of Tokatu to Sealord’s fleet.