Nordsea (now Crimond Enterprises) receives kudos for innovative fishing gear
by Tom Peters
The Chronicle Herald
A Dartmouth company is combining leading-edge technology with years of experience to maintain its niche as an innovator and manufacturer of fishing equipment.
Nordsea Ltd., (now Crimond Enterprises Ltd.) in Burnside Park recently received a federal energy efficiency award for developing reduced-drag fishing trawls that led to a cut in fuel consumption.
The award was a positive stamp on the research and development Nordsea has been doing for years.
The new trawls, for example, were development from a project that started over 10 years ago, says David Tait, Sr., president of family-owned Nordsea.
"Our prime objective over the years has been in research and development of selective gear," says Mr. Tait.
"About 10 years ago we did a project in Quebec where we built a trawl of knotted netting and an identical trawl of knotless netting. We compared the two for drag and fuel efficiency. That project gave us a start."
With new materials for trawls being developed, Nordsea found one particular fibre called spectra, a lighter material but at least 10 times stronger than the polyurethane fibres commonly used.
"So in making trawls (with spectra) we can go down a lot in the diameter of the netting, which creates about 60 per cent of the drag of a trawl. So that was the area we attacked and we built trawls with the new fibre and had tremendous success in the reduction of fuel and drag."
Spectra is more expensive but much more efficient. However, when it comes to making trawls form the material the work is still very labour intensive, Mr. Tait says.
Nordsea's 17 employees are all former fishermen, except for administrative staff. "Having that knowledge helps a lot."
Mr. Tait, himself a former fishing captain, came to Canada from Scotland in the 1970s. In 1982, he started Nordsea on a very small scale, slowly building the business. The company provides a range of products and equipment to the mobile and fixed gear fishing sectors in Canada, its main market, and abroad. Nordsea also has a retail division in Burnside and Barrington Passage.
Three or four years ago in Atlantic Canada "we branched out into what I call fixed gear, which is lobster, gillnets, longlines, and the like," says Mr. Tait. "So we started a branch in Barrington Passage and that has been working quite good."
In the 1980s Nordsea got into selective gear "long before it became fashionable."
Again, foresight and innovation kept the company on the leading edge.
"We had several projects with the Department of Fisheries introducing selective gear into the Canadian fishery which was quite successful and even resulted into being written into law. Things like square mesh, panels and nets with separator panels in them.
"We were in the forefront in the development of the grid that separates shrimp from fish and the grid also used to separate pollock form other fish. Currently we are selling separator panels for trawls which let the cod out and retains haddock."
The panels are being sold commercially and are becoming mandatory on Georges Bank.
"We are even involved with the federal fisheries people in constructing the legislation on how to fit and use these panels."
With the groundfishery declining, Nordsea is looking to increase its activity in other aspects of the industry," says Mr. Tait.
"With groundfish being compressed into the control of fewer players, it means fewer boats and fewer nets in the future," he says, so Nordsea will take a different tack. The company will put more effort into the fixed gear fishery like lobster, where Mr. Tait says, "there is still growth to be had."
"You've got to be prepared to change. It is something that has to be done, "he says.