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Seattle trawler Storm Petrel with a pair of Tornado pelagic trawl doors.
Seattle trawler Storm Petrel with a pair of Tornado pelagic trawl doors.

Vónin Tornado trawl doors make Bering Sea debut

Seattle trawler Storm Petrel has finished its first trips using a pair of Tornado pelagic trawl doors from Vónin. Skipper Acácio DoMar has been impressed with how the new doors have handled.

‘The Tornado doors tow well, square well and shoot away well. They’re a great fit to what we do,’ he said, as the A-season for Alaska pollock was coming to an end. This is the 37-metre Storm Petrel’s main fishery.

‘We fish pollock for most of the year. There’s some codfish, but it’s a small season.’

The company did its homework ahead of investing in new doors, with Acácio DoMar’s fellow captain and fleet manager Dan Martin travelling to Scotland and other places to check out the latest technology.

‘He sent me the info and after watching the videos and multiple calls to Óli á Gravarbø at Vónin with plenty of questions, we made the decision to go for these doors,’ he said.

‘I got the Tornado doors in March. And we tested them with the settings we thought would be best for the fishing, with different angles of attack. They responded as I hoped, from more spread to faster towing, and we haven’t been disappointed.’

Vónin Tornado door
Change of attitude

The 6 square metre Tornados replace an older 8.5 square metre pair of conventional doors. And going for smaller doors called for a change of attitude.

‘I’m happy with these doors because the idea that bigger is better isn’t always true – and this is one of those cases,’ Acácio explained.

‘I’d like to point out that Óli at Vónin made me believe in them – because the ‘bigger is better’ mindset made me nervous about this. But I’m very pleased we have these doors. This is all happening thanks to Óli. He helped me accept that it wasn’t a mistake going for smaller doors.’

During the A-season, Storm Petrel towed the doors from 30 down to 70 fathoms, both midwater and close to the bottom. 

‘We adjusted some settings to try them out, but didn’t need to. They tow well, and I noticed that I was able to keep up with other boats that I had a tough time to match speedwise before we got the Tornados,’ he said, adding that it’s not easy to tell how much of a fuel saving there is with the Tornado doors.

Same spread with a full codend

‘But I feel that we fill the bag faster as the net stays open all the time. There are two things that impressed me – first that typically the net transducer is 3-5 fathoms lower than the doors, but in this setup they’re always at the same depth, which to me means more efficiency. Secondly, the net spread stays the same all the time, with an empty codend or with 150 tonnes in there. That’s impressive.’

Now that the A-season is over, there’s a break in the pollock fishery until the second season of the year opens.

‘We used these doors for a month and we’ll be back in June for the B-season,’ Acácio DoMar said. ‘And people are noticing these doors in the Bering Sea.’

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