Flagship Boat Build is major win for Yorkshire’s Marine Economy

  • Parkol Marine beat off stiff international competition to win tender for ground-breaking build, amidst new national shipbuilding programme
  • Multi-million-pound investment will help safeguard region’s fishing industry and marine environments for decades to come
  • State-of-the-art technology and energy efficiency support critical environmental agenda
  • Skilled jobs boost as Parkol diversifies and picks up construction pace at Whitby and Middlesbrough sites

 North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NEIFCA) has teamed up with renowned regional boat builder Parkol Marine to develop a first-of-its kind new survey and patrol vessel.

Developed in partnership with leading UK naval architects Chartwell Marine, the new boat will dramatically boost the organisation’s capabilities at a crucial time for the region’s fisheries.

And it is hoped the vessel, which is yet to be named and is due to be commissioned in the Spring of 2025, will become a blueprint for fellow inshore fisheries and conservation authorities around the UK, which are facing similar challenges in conserving the nation’s marine environments and maintaining supplies of fish and shellfish.

Nine years in the planning, this will be the fourth generation of inshore fisheries patrol vessel, with a heritage going back to 1890 when the then Sea Fisheries Committee was established. The first inshore patrol boat, powered by steam, set sail in 1905.

The new boat, which will replace the current vessel North Eastern Guardian III (NEG III), marks a major milestone for North Eastern IFCA (NEIFCA) and will boast a number of firsts, combining to make it faster, more environmentally-friendly and capable of providing the kind of detailed data on the area’s marine life which has not been possible up to now. This will enable the organisation to better plot trends in marine life and strategise to protect and diversify it in the future.

Standout features of the boat include:

  • An aluminium hull, making it more fuel-efficient and capable of carrying heavier cargo loads, than the existing vessel, the North Eastern Guardian III (NEG III)
  • With a top speed of 20+ knots, the new build will be much more effective and efficient than NEG III and its IMO tier 3-compliant engine will generate 87 per cent less nitrous oxide emissions
  • The new addition will be able to carry up to 27 tonnes of cargo, including analytical equipment, rigid inflatable craft for high-speed patrols, and confiscated stock and equipment where necessary
  • A dedicated onboard wet lab will enable NEIFCA personnel, scientists and environmentalists to analyse samples in the field, forming faster, more accurate conclusions
  • Built-in, high-tech acoustic equipment including multi-beam echo sensors, will provide ultra-accurate 3D images of the seabed and under-water activity, with its slow cruising capability enabling it to travel noiselessly and minimise disruption to digital image capture and marine life when assessing seabed biodiversity. Meanwhile, its sophisticated radar and plotting systems will monitor and evidence the movement of fishing vessels around prohibited areas
  • Mission changeover equipment will allow the crew to switch seamlessly between patrol and survey modes, for maximum capability.

Nationally, IFCA is responsible for policing our inshore fisheries, carrying out inspections at sea and ensuring fishermen and others adhere to the latest regulations, including, allowable fish sizes for sustainability and adherence to environmental principles.

The duties of authorities like this shifted significantly in 2010, with around 80 per cent of NEIFCA’s activity now focused on marine protection as well as fish and shellfish management, reflecting the growing imperative around conservation, environmental concerns and food production in the UK. The NEIFCA region includes 900 square kilometres of protected marine areas, some globally recognised as well as domestically significant, and featuring incredibly sensitive habitats.

Eighty-five per cent of regional fishing vessels operate within this area, an industry worth £33 million, annually, to the local economy and people – and it is hoped the new vessel will help NEIFCA safeguard that for the next 20 years at least.

Capable of travelling up to 60 nautical miles offshore, the new boat will also play a key role in supporting the work of partner organisations where there is an urgent need, such as policing illegal incursions of fisheries limits and responding to extreme marine environmental events.

David McCandless, Chief Officer for IFCA, explained its evolution also coincides with a hugely important evolutionary period for the UK fisheries generally. “Post-Brexit, the political agenda has shifted and the Government is reviewing previous regulations such as quotas as a matter of urgency, to support our homegrown fishing industry.

“Therefore, new data which helps us to build a clear picture of what needs to be done to build and manage our marine livestock, has never been as important as it is now.

“Stringent European quotas significantly restricted the amount of white fish our regional fisherman were allowed to catch over recent decades and many fell back on crab and lobster fishing, which now represents 90 per cent of local activity, an over-reliance which could threaten our regional industry if, for example, stocks became dangerously depleted or were hit by a catastrophic environmental event.”

David added: “Data generated by the new boat will help us assess changes to marine habitats, formulate plans to manage them better and assess the effectiveness of those activities. It will also help us identify where there is an abundance of alternative fish, such as whelks, prawns, scallops and squid, which we can help our local fishermen to capitalise on, informing future UK fisheries policy.

“Unfortunately, events in the River Tees in 2020 demonstrated just how precarious over-reliance can be, with a high proportion of their crab, lobster and other marine life wiped out overnight for still-unexplained reasons. Therefore, through careful investigation we want to be able to give our fishermen access to a wider range of species again as a protective step.

“We are hopeful that the new Fisheries Act 2020 will result in more scope for our local fisherman, and hopefully we can positively impact how that evolves.

“It’s a huge feather in the cap for our region’s fisheries that, following a hugely competitive international tender process, this vessel is going to be built in our home port, by a local company with such a long and respected shipbuilding heritage as Parkol. When completed, it will be a frontrunner for the whole country, demonstrating what can be achieved in the battle to preserve our precious sea environments. We’re hugely excited about watching the boat take shape over the next year-and-a-half, and then seeing the difference it can make.”

Andy Page, Designer for Chartwell Marine – which specialises in concepting innovative commercial boat designs to solve specific industry issues – is responsible for the vessel blueprint. He explained: “This vessel is built off our trusted Chartwell Ambitious Offshore Wind Crew Transfer Boat platform, a proven hull form, operational internationally in the UK, Europe and USA. Chartwell are very proud to be working with NEIFCA and Parkol on this project following a strong history working with a number of UK IFCAs to deliver the right boat for the job” 

“We’re delighted to be part of such an innovative project, which we’re sure will yield incredible results for NEIFCA.”

The vessel will be built at Parkol’s yard in Whitby, and is the most significant example yet of the company’s diversification into working vessel and cargo ship construction, in addition to the state-of-the-art fishing vessels it built its enviable reputation on.

Sally Atkinson, Parkol Marine’s Commercial Director, added: “We’re absolutely delighted to have been granted this opportunity, which represents a number of firsts for Parkol Marine – it is the first catamaran, first Government tender that the company has won and is the first workboat of this type. It is also the first time we have worked with Chartwell Marine and their innovative style of ship design. The contract provides us with an opportunity to nurture homegrown skills with our existing aluminium welders/fabricators, and also to recruit dedicated aluminium specialists and an apprentice utilising our established apprenticeship programme.

“It’s also the first competitive public tender we’ve bid for and to have won it is a fantastic achievement. There is an increasing amount of optimism in the UK fishing and shipbuilding industries and we’re delighted to be part of that, working with new suppliers to increase our already-significant knowledge and experience and hopefully creating more job opportunities and further expanding our skill base.”

NEIFCA is largely funded by a conglomeration of local authorities and a proportion of the finance for the vessel is being provided by a combination of 11 of those, including East Riding of Yorkshire Council as the lead authority and North Yorkshire Council. NEIFCA will also be sourcing a proportion of the money itself, from savings and the sale of its existing vessel, as well as grant funding from the Department of the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

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