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Marine / New Altaire a ‘big upgrade’, skipper says

Altaire skipper Chris Duncan. Photo: Shetland News

IT IS fair to say the new Altaire trawler has certainly caught the eye since her arrival into Lerwick on Saturday morning.

Speaking onboard later on Saturday afternoon, skipper Chris Duncan described the new vessel as “top class”.

And it is hard to argue, with state-of-the-art equipment and comfortable surroundings for the crew – and the distinctive red sweeping across the exterior.

At 80 metres it is nearly the largest ship in the Shetland fishing fleet when it comes to length, but it has more width.

The Altaire heading into Lerwick on Saturday morning. Photo: Calum Gray

It has a crew of 12 but there is space for more folk on board.

“It’s a big upgrade,” Duncan said as he reflected on the previous Altaire, which was 19 years old.

Despite only being around four metres extra in length, the new vessel is around 30 per cent bigger than its predecessor.

The ship is powered by a Wärtsilä engine and Duncan said she is more stable in the seas compared to the old Altaire.

All interior photos: Shetland News

The ship was fitted out by Danish shipyard Karstensens Skibsværft in Skagen, which said the design focuses on crew wellbeing, low emissions and catch quality. It has already undergone tests and trials at sea.

The Altaire is owned by a partnership that includes two local shareholders as well as the Plymouth based fishing agents Interfish.

Some of the gear on board has been supplied by companies such as Smart Bridge, Karmøy and SeaQuest.

In terms of amenities for the crew there is a gym on board, as well as a sauna and two TV rooms. Each cabin has Sky TV and private ensuite facilities.

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So what about the cost? Duncan is tight-lipped, but he acknowledged that inflation has hiked up the cost of shipbuilding.

It is expected that the Altaire will head off for her first fishing trip later this summer to catch herring in the North Sea. She also takes in fish like mackerel and blue whiting.

Duncan said the Altaire tends to land in Peterhead, where there is a factory it has links to, while some other catch may go to Denmark and also Killybegs in Ireland.

Collafirth has been the Altaire’s home for years but the skipper suggested with the new vessel’s larger size she may spend time between Lerwick and Northmavine depending on the time of the year.

The vessel arrived in Shetland from its trip from Denmark just a couple of days after it was announced that the Scottish Government had shelved its controversial Highly Protected Marine Area (HPMA) proposal, which would have banned fishing in 10 per cent of the country’s waters.

The HPMA proposal provoked the ire of the fishing community, and Duncan said the policy would have had an “effect on an awful lot of people”.

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