Blaze I

Blaze I

Innovative monkfish catcher built in Brazil

High-quality monkfish in southern of Brazil is is driving a local fishing company to build the very first fishing vessel in the country for this fishery. Blaze I’s construction is currently approaching completion and it is expected to start fishing in the second half of 2021.

For two decades, seafood company Blaze has been providing premium products to European, Asian, and African markets. Despite the solid commercial relationship with the Portuguese and French customers that the company has built since the beginning, it has been suffering over the past three years with the closure of European markets to the Brazilian fish due to sanitary concerns.

That was one of the reasons why Blaze decided to invest in its own boat. According to José da Silveira Jr., one of the owners, the company’s expectation is to obtain a European certification.

Naval Norte Engenharia has managed Blaze I’s design / Naval Norte Engenharia ha gestionado el diseño del Blaze I

‘We hope that before the end of the year a European delegation will inspect boats, ports, and processing plants in Brazil. We want to show them that we’re ready to work with Europe again,’ he said.

Since the project started at the end of 2019, the plant was to obtain all necessary licenses during the construction process, something that is not usual in Brazil. According to Glauco Hausmann, Silveira Jr.’s partner, aspects as the boat’s seaworthiness and its processing plant have been examined and approved by the authorities.

‘It’s an innovative project in the Brazilian context. It follows several European standards, given that we’re in constant touch with operators in Portugal and other countries. It’s really a bet in the European market,’ Glauco Hausmann said.

The construction project began at the end of 2019 and Blaze I is expected to start fishing later this year / El proyecto de construcción comenzó a finales de 2019 y se espera que el Blaze I comience a pescar a finales de este año

Wesley Bento, a naval architect at Naval Norte Engenharia, has been in charge of the design, which was partially inspired by the recent Cordeiro de Deus E project, one of the few such vessels produced in Brazil in recent years.

‘Monkfish requires a larger processing area than scarlet prawn, which is Cordeiro de Deus E’s focus. Gutting, filleting, and parasite inspection are key phases in monkfish processing,’ he explained.

Blaze I’s construction has presented numerous challenges as the owners are building the new vessel to European standards / La construcción del Blaze I ha presentado numerosos desafíos, ya que los armadores están construyendo el nuevo buque según las normas europeas

The 30.50 metre LOA Blaze I is also larger boat than Cordeiro de Deus E. It can carry up to 15 crew in two compartments, and it has a 228m3 fishroom capacity and a 120m2 catch handling space.

The vessel was designed following careful analysis. Key elements were incorporated to optimise seaworthiness and efficiency. The bulbous bow is to reduce the hull’s resistance and a PTI (power take-in) system is expected to streamline fuel consumption.

All catch handling systems had to be adapted to Blaze’s needs, since there are no specialised suppliers in Brazil. Stainless steel has been widely  used in piping and in the processing area.

The 30.50 metre Blaze I will focus primarily on fishing for monkfish off southern Brazil /El Blaze I, de 30,50 metros, se centrará principalmente en la pesca del rape frente al sur de Brasil

Blaze I is designed to be as autonomous as possible during operation. There are digital systems everywhere controlling systems such as electrics, the processing and temperature ,’ Wesley Bento added.

Data generated during fishing, including precise location and sea temperature, is recorded and made available to authorities and consumers.

Blaze I has capacity to freeze catches on board, allowing its owners to compete with producers in other countries / El Blaze I tiene capacidad para congelar las capturas a bordo, lo que permite a sus armadores competir con los productores de otros países

The innovative technology and high standards call for the entire crew to be carefully trained, according to Glauco Hausmann.

‘Professional training is one of the elements that can make our product reaches a higher level,’ he said.

Blaze I is authorised by the Brazilian government to catch monkfish as its primary target species and a few other stocks as secondary catches, including crab.

Blaze I has been built with a bulbous bow to optimise seakeeping qualities / El Blaze I ha sido construido con una proa abombada para optimizar su rendimiento en la mar

‘Up to now, monkfish was caught in Brazil only as bycatch. It was very hard to select the best among the catch,’ José da Silveira Jr. said.

They now hope that Blaze I will be able to set a high standard for the catch, getting a better price for it in the international markets.

‘Now we’ll be able to freeze the catch on board, something that will allow us to compete with other exporters, such as those in South Africa,’ he said.

Specialised suppliers are hard to find in Brazil and the owners have had to find ingenious ways to adapt systems for use at sea

Construction was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected the supply of raw materials and equipment. All the same, work is now in its final stages, according to Wesley Bento.

‘Now we’re working on the outfitting and on installation of electric systems and equipment,’ he explained.

Despite all obstacles the owners had to face during construction, including the recent substantial rise of the price of steel in Brazil, it was still a more attractive option to build locally than to buy a used vessel abroad.

‘Here we know how the sea works. Shipyards here used to building boats for our waters,’ José da  Silveira Jr. said.

‘Current exchange rates are also very negative for the Brazilian real. It would be very expensive to import a boat,’ Glauco Hausmann added.

The company has received no credit or governmental grants, and Blaze I’s construction has been funded by the company’s own capital.

‘We saved money for 18 years to build this boat. Some people say we’re very brave to do something like that at this moment. It’s another way of telling us that we’re nuts,’ he said.

But their hopes are very positive. The only study that was ever done on the monkfish stocks in Brazil showed that they’re huge and Blaze I will be able to fish year-round.

‘I believe we’re inaugurating a new era in Brazilian fishing. Others will follow us,’ José da Silveira Jr. said.