Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Outport follow up

As a reader correctly pointed out there was a ship identification missing in my Outport Report from April 5: http://shipfax.blogspot.ca/2014/04/outport-report.html

Can you sport the third trawler?

There was a third trawler tied up at the Bridgewater wharf, and it was partially visible in the background of the photo of Cape Rouge. Its story, and the story of its owners, have caused some confusion over the years, and here I hope to set that all straight.

In the early 1960s there was a boom in Atlantic fisheries. There was a huge spike in the herring population, and the Canadian government was providing generous subsidies to build fishing trawlers for groundfish. Neither the herring nor the groundfish were able to sustain the huge fishing effort that resulted, but for the short term there was a large expansion for fish companies and many were attracted to the region from far away. Among these was British Columbia Packers Ltd of Vancouver. One of the largest integrated fishing companies in the world, it had interests in British Columbia, Alaska, continental USA and South America. The George Weston Co Ltd acquired B.C.Packers Ltd in 1962 adding it to their global bread and grocery interests.

In 1962, B.C.Packers, set up shop in Newfoundland at Isle aux Morts (largely for herring), purchased the Newman fresh fish plant in Harbour Breton, and built herring reduction plants there and in Pubnico, Nova Scotia. They brought herring seiners round from the west coast and commissioned the construction of three new steel side trawlers from George T. Davie & Sons Ltd in Lauzon, QC. Until the new boats were delivered they bought surplus trawlers from the UK.

B.C.Packers had several well known brand names in the market place, including Clover Leaf, Rupert Brand (named for their Prince Rupert Canneries company) and Certi-Fresh. They decided to name their Atlantic coast trawlers Rupert Brand + roman numeral in numerical sequence. 

Thus the trawlers built by George T. Davie in 1963 were called Rupert Brand VI , Rupert Brand VII (both built in 1963) and Rupert Brand VIII (built in 1964). The trawlers fished out of Isle aux Morts (near Port aux Basques) for the BC Packers plant there called Nel Pack Fisheries, but mostly from Harbour Breton, but may also have fished out of some Nova Scotia ports such as Canso, on a seasonal basis.

Some have assumed that since the owners of the company were based in Vancouver, later in Richmond and Steveston, BC that the boats fished in BC. This was only the case for some of the seiners, which returned to BC after the partial collapse of the herring fishery in the late 1960s. The  trawlers however remained on the Atlantic coast and continued to fish until the sharp decline in groundfish (cod in particular) caused a huge shakeout in the fishing companies.

Meanwhile George Weston Ltd had purchased Connors Bros of  Blacks Harbour, BC in 1967, and over the next few years moved the herring processing from Iles aux Morts to Blacks Harbour. A brief try at processing ground fish again in Isle aux Morts in 1974 was given up.

In 1977 B.C. Packers sold their Harbour Breton operation, and the trawlers that fished there to Fisheries Products Ltd. and Rupert Brand VI took on the typical FPL name Zarp (all the company's boats began with the letter "Z".) VII became Zebroid and VIII became Zerda.

The previously mentioned shake out in the Atlantic fisheries,resulted in the formaiton of Fisheries Products International Ltd December 31, 1984, out of 12 fishing cpmaies including FPL's Harbour Breton operation. The cod moratorium in 1992, put many of the companies out of business, or resulted in mergers and downsizings. Older trawlers, such as Zarp ex Rupert Brand VI were laid up and sold.

I first noted Zarp in Lunenburg in 1996, where it appeared that some work was being done for new owners. Its Canadian registry was closed in April 1997, however it lingered about the area, moving to Bridgewater in about 2002, with some repainting taking place, and some liveaboards, but no real refitting going on. There it sits today, still afloat but in near derelict condition.Despite its one time owners, it has never been nearer to British Columbia than in this photo.


No comments:

Post a Comment