New multi-purpose trawler launched –

New multi-purpose trawler launched Published:  28 June, 2007

The boat was launched in Whitby

A BRAND new deep sea trawler has joined the East Coast fleet – the largest fishing vessel to be built in England for almost seven years.

The 21.5 metre long Our Lass II, built at a cost of around £1.6-million, has just been launched in Whitby for Locker Trawlers Ltd – and is the company’s sixth fishing vessel.

Company chief Arnold Locker has also purchased a 22-metre trawler from Northern Ireland as an additional boost to his company’s growing fishing capacity.

But it was the launch of the Our Lass II at Parkol Marine in Whitby Harbour that attracted the crowds, despite the driving rain. The vessel, which will carry a crew of up to eight, was named by Arnold Locker’s aunt, Nora and his three year old grand daughter Mani.

The vessel is designed for multi-fishing purposes, but is likely to alternate between whitefish and prawns, depending on the time of year.

Arnold Locker said: “We are all very proud of the Our Lass II – she looks and is a fine vessel and is equipped with the very latest computer technology including GPS.”

The company laid on a celebration dinner in Whitby Pavilion on Saturday night, which was attended by over 250 people, including a large number of international guests.

A special, large crane, weighing over 200 tonnes, had to be brought in from Holland to get the trawler from the builder’s yard into the harbour.

The vessel is due to go out on sea trials in the next couple of weeks and Mr Locker hopes that she will be ready for operational fishing by the end of July or early August at the latest.

And, he paid tribute to Parkol Marine for their efforts in getting the boat built more than two months ahead of schedule. “They have done a great job and she is not only the biggest trawler to be built in England for many years, but is also the biggest built by Parkol Marine.”

Arnold’s 27-year-old son James, voted Young Fisherman of the Year in 2006, will be the skipper for the initial trips, although other skippers are expected to handle her in the months ahead.

The Our Lass II is designed for operating further afield than the most of the other vessels in the Locker Trawlers fleet – and can carry larger catches. “We can sail close to Norway or across to the Dutch Coast if necessary,” he added.

Mr Locker said he would like to modernise his entire fleet over the next few years. “Many of our boats are 30 years old so it is fairly certain that we will be looking at further investment.

“Fishing has been very good this year, especially with prawns and whiting. The trouble for us and for other boat owners on the East Coast is that the cod quotas are too restrictive. But at the moment there is nothing we can do about that.

“Our boats go after both whitefish and prawns and we also switch to oil rig support work on occasions – depending on what is most profitable at the time.”

Arnold Locker is an outspoken critic of the current quota system, arguing that scientific data is at least two years out of date and has taken no account of the massive decommissioning effort. He says the scientists have little idea of the true figures for cod stocks, which were a lot higher than publicly quoted.

His new Irish acquisition is the Rebecca Elizabeth from Kilkeel in Northern Ireland, formerly owned by well known skipper and boat owner Ernie McMath. “She may be 30 years old, but she is in superb condition,” said Mr Locker. The vessel has already fished for prawns off the Yorkshire Coast.

Whitby now has a fleet of around a dozen large trawlers and the port has seen something of a revival over the past 12 months, even though the value of fish landed in the harbour last year fell by almost £1-million. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.