New product line promises increased efficiency for fishing vessels as gear manufacturer Vónin introduces the Storm semi-pelagic trawl doors and the Tornado pelagic trawl doors — venturing into a highly competitive segment.

FBR16_LORES_5253[By Q. Bates]

Fishing gear manufacturer Vónin has made an old dream come true by starting production of its own trawl doors. The new Storm semi-pelagic doors are already at sea with Royal Greenland’s trawler Akamalik, fishing for shrimp in the Barents Sea, while the Tornado pelagic doors are being prepared for their full-scale sea trials within a few weeks.

Vónin used the opportunity of the annual Vónin day in early April at the Nordic House in Tórshavn to unveil the new designs, presenting them for the first time a gathering of a hundred and fifty owners, fleet  managers, skippers, mates and deck bosses, to an immediate strong interest in a new product entering an already highly competitive market.

Adding its own trawl doors to the company’s product range gives Vónin the capacity to supply complete trawl gear packages to its customers.

The Storm and Tornado doors are designed in partnership with a Danish specialist company, and fabrication takes place in Lithuania. Extensive computer simulation was followed by model testing in the SINTEF tank in Hirtshals.

“The figures we saw for the coefficients of lift and drag [CL/CD] of these doors in the flume tank were the highest we have seen for any trawl doors available on the market,” said Vónin’s marketing manager Bogi Nón.

The development of the high-aspect Tornado doors has a little way further to go as yet, with the first test pair being readied for its full-scale sea trials on a pelagic vessel within a few weeks.

“What we have been able to achieve with the Tornado design is that they can be towed at a very high angle of attack,” Mr. Nón said.

“A lot of trawl doors stall when they reach a high angle but that doesn’t happen with the Tornados. We tested them in the tank up to a 50° angle, and although we could see the graph starting to bottom out at that exceptionally high angle, it seems we could certainly take them further than that.”

The test indications are that the Tornado doors promise great things to come. A 14 square meter pair of doors from another leading manufacturer gave Vónin’s 2304 pelagic trawl a 199m spread, a figure exceeded by a 12m2 pair of Tornados, and a 14m2 pair of Tornado doors pushed the spread all the way up to 238m. Two weeks into its trip, the initial feedback from Akamalik’s skipper on the performance of the semi-pelagic/demersal Storm doors has been very positive, according to Mr. Nón.

“We have been busy with shrimp trawls for the Barents Sea, including gear for Russian and Norwegian trawlers, as well as full package of new gear for Akamalik. They took the new doors and a pair of new 3600 mesh trawls before they sailed for the Barents Sea, and they are seeing some excellent spread. There are a few minor alterations we will have to make based on the reports from Akamalik.”

As well as the two trawl door designs, Vónin and its Danish design partner have also developed the Flyer, a lift generating device that takes as much space as four floats in a trawl’s headline, but provides a significantly higher amount of lift. The Flyer is shackled to the headline and unlike conventional kites that can require careful adjustment, it is self-stabilizing once in position. Like a kite, the amount of lift is relative to the towing speed, generating 90kg of lift at a 2.50 knot speed, while those four conventional floats provide 30kg of buoyancy.

“At 3 knots, the lift generated is 120kg, at 3.50 knots it’s 155kg and it rises to 185kg at a four-knot towing speed,” Mr. Nón said, adding that the Flyer’s patented design is envisaged for both demersal and pelagic gears. The Flyer is moulded in a single piece from flexible but tough polyurethane.

“The prototype looks very promising so far and we’ll be testing this shortly on commercial bottom trawls to get some feedback on how it performs under real conditions.”

‘Vónin stays Vónin’

Vónin’s parent company Vón, owners of Vónin the Faroes as well as its Norwegian and Lithuanian partner companies, was recently acquired in a surprise move by Icelandic fishing gear group Hampiðjan, but it will be business as usual, Managing Director Hjalmar Petersen confirmed.

“We will continue to supply our customers, which means continuing to compete with Hampiðjan, including on the Icelandic market where we have a number of customers who have been coming to us for years for their pelagic gear. So as far as our customers are concerned, nothing changes. Vónin stays Vónin.”

Mr. Petersen said that Vónin will continue to promote its gear and its own products, notably the Capto and Fortis, ropes and twines that have been developed in close co-operation with Vónin’s long-time supplier Euronete.

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