Posts Tagged ‘toothfish’

16th January 2009

January 16, 2009

As well as retaining all our domestic rubbish aboard for disposal ashore, and burning whatever we can in the incinerator, we must also keep aboard all offal from the factory after the fish are processed. Even the little bits that fall on the factory deck, and any bait that comes back on the hooks, or is left over after the lines are set, must be kept aboard and only discarded once we are on the way home, outside CCAMLR waters and, preferably, before we re-enter New Zealand waters.

To do this we pass the offal through an industrial mincer, a machine which grinds the offal into a paste – like porridge. It’s then pumped into one of four huge refrigerated holds aboard the ship. These holds have been specially modified to store the offal and even though the chief tries to maintain the offal temperature at between -2 and +2 degrees centigrade it still gets pretty smelly after three months.

As this is only the Antarctic Chieftain’s second voyage after her total refit in Nelson between June and August 2008, it was necessary to carry two chief engineers. Beginning next voyage, Pete and Karl will rotate between trips.

Karl is a bit camera-shy, but I managed to get a shot while he was test-running the emergency fire pump the other day.

Karl is a bit camera-shy, but I managed to get a shot while he was test-running the emergency fire pump the other day.

Rgds: John B.

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15th January 2009

January 16, 2009

Work goes on in the factory.

Nick is cutting collars off the toothfish heads; these are packed separately. The cheeks are also removed from the head and the only parts sent to the offal tanks are the head itself and the guts; all the rest is processed and stowed in the hold.

Nick is cutting collars off the toothfish heads; these are packed separately. The cheeks are also removed from the head and the only parts sent to the offal tanks are the head itself and the guts; all the rest is processed and stowed in the hold.

Josh, Frodo and Aaron taking a large processed fish from the holding tank to the wash bin where the blood will be scrubbed from the gut cavity before going into the blast freezers.

Josh, Frodo and Aaron taking a large processed fish from the holding tank to the wash bin where the blood will be scrubbed from the gut cavity before going into the blast freezers.

Pete, the CCAMLR observer, holds up a large starfish that came off the last line. We don't often catch much other than toothfish (our target species), grenadier and skate. So when something different comes up on a line, it is recorded and retained as a specimen to be analysed by the experts at home.

Pete, the CCAMLR observer, holds up a large starfish that came off the last line. We don't often catch much other than toothfish (our target species), grenadier and skate. So when something different comes up on a line, it is recorded and retained as a specimen to be analysed by the experts at home.

Occasionally we find something different, usually from the stomach contents of a toothfish that has been examined by the observers while doing their biological sampling. More about that later.

Rgds: John B.

12th December 08

December 12, 2008

All hard workers need feeding well and it’s no different aboard the Antarctic Chieftain. Mike is our cook and he’s been doing it for years, preparing three hot meals a day for 22 hungry crew, the first at 04:00hrs, another at noon then dinner at 20:00hrs. Variety is the key after 4 months at sea and Mike is king at that. He prides himself in his ability to create something different every day. From Lamb racks and Beef Wellington to Bacon & Egg Pie, fancy Spaghetti dishes, not to forget the Toothfish. Most chefs would scrub pots for a week to have the chance to experiment as Mike does, with one of the World’s most sought after fish, which is usually destined for top class restaurants.

Mike cooking toothfish - you have to taste it to understand!

Mike cooking toothfish - you have to taste it to understand!

Ordering provisions for the trip is not as straight forward as it may seem, but when the company you work for recognises the need for some luxuries on a long voyage like this, the job is made a little easier.

Some of the quantities Mike has to consider are:

·       300 dozen Eggs
·       200kg Bacon
·       60kg Fillet steak
·       40kg Sirloin steak
·       ½ ton Potatoes
·       120kg Hash browns
·        35 x 500g Coffee
·        1,800 cartons ling life milk

By the end of a long trip, if he’s got it all wrong, and we’re running out of the basics, I’m sure the boys will let him know. That is usually incentive enough to get it right from the start.

Rgds: John B.

8th December 2008

December 8, 2008

We have been fishing for 4 days now on a deep ridge just north of the ice edge, around 65 30s 178 30w. Results are slow as these areas are notoriously difficult to work. Foul grounds with many rocky outcrops and under sea pressure ridges that snag our lines on the bottom and, above that, strong currents combine to create real challenges for fishermen in these latitudes.

Many of the depths we work are between 1,400 and 2,000m, that’s a mile down and a long way to haul a longline from. Usually it takes about 1½ hours just to get the anchor up!

Several fish on one of the lines we hauled today came up showing signs of encounters with Colossal Squid, 1,850m down. The attached photos are showing Matt, one of our crew, holding a 35kg Toothfish that has been attacked while hooked on the line.  You can see the huge sucker marks and the giant sized bites left by the Squid as she ate lunch.

Matt holding a toothfish with evidence of a Colossal Squid bite

Matt holding a toothfish with evidence of a Colossal Squid bite

Occasionally a Toothfish will come aboard with remains of Squid in its stomach, indicating that, this time round, the toothfish had won the struggle.

Rgds: John B.