New boat design in works for Acadian Peninsula crab fleet

A shipbuilding company on the Acadian Peninsula is unveiling plans for what it's calling "the next generation of fishing boat."

Prototype to be built in Bas-Caraquet shipyard over next 12-18 months will incorporate local needs

A shipbuilding company on the Acadian Peninsula is unveiling plans for what it's calling "the next generation of fishing boat."

Atlantic Ship Builders Inc. is trying to breathe new life into the once-lucrative industry, one new design at a time.

It launched a prototype lobster boat earlier this year. On Wednesday, the company showed off its vision for a new design for a crab boat to serve the needs of the Acadian Peninsula fleet.

"This boat has been designed in order to improve the seakeeping," said naval architect Didier Marchard, whose company Pantocarène Architecte Naval of France is a partner in the project.

"Seakeeping is very important for the work on the deck but also for the living and accommodation, because when they stay one week in bad weather … we consider that they deserve a bit more comfort."

Seakeeping ability refers to how well-suited a boat or ship is to sea conditions when underway.

Marchard says the new boat has a very stable fibreglass hull, a large deck, and is designed to safely navigate the high seas.

The boat is faster and uses less fuel than the 30-year-old boats that make up most of the Acadian Peninsula fleet. The new design also has a larger hold.

The new design is already popular in France, where Marchand's company is based.

The design is adapted from the seining vessel Jimohran (Rorcal 180).

"We have the plans for a boat that will meet the needs of some crab fishers," said Paul Lanteigne, the president of Atlantic Boat Builders. "This vessel is adapted from an existing hull that has already proven its worth elsewhere and has shown that it satisfies many Atlantic crab fishing related needs."

The Rorcal 190.C will be build in the Bas-Caraquet shipyard over the next 12 to 18 months, in consultation with local fishermen about what they want in a boat.

"We'll be waiting for the recommendation of what the industry and what the fishermen need. Maybe we have the perfect hit here, but we're not sure yet," said Lanteigne.

Once the boat is designed to the specifications of local crab fisherman, the cost of buying one is likely to be more than $1 million.