“I name this ship the CFL Hunter. God bless her and all who sail in her.” With these words, MLA Phyl Rendell, chosen Godmother of the CFL Hunter, launched the Falkland Islands’ first ever fishing vessel financed wholly with local capital.
Moments later the Hunter slowly and quite majestically slipped into the waters of the Spanish port of Marin to begin its career as a toothfish longliner in the Falkland Islands.
The heavy downpour of rain had stopped, like magic as the ceremony to launch the Hunter and mark the handover of the vessel from the shipyard to the owners began at 4pm on Tuesday.
The event was attended by around 150 people including Consolidated Fisheries staff, directors, shareholders and invited guests and by the staff and workers of the shipbuilders Nodosa SA.
A band of Spanish bagpipe players welcomed guests onto the staging with the bow of the vessel looming above them, to hear speeches by the Mayoress of Marin, the Councillor for Economy and Industry of Galicia, the Director of the Port of Marin and by Tom Blake, Chairman of CFL, and MLA Phyl Rendell. A cocktail party was then held while guests watched Hunter being towed into berth before boarding her for guided tours.
This significant moment in the development of the fishing industry is the culmination of years of planning. Initial designs were first tabled in 2005 although it was not until 2013 that the project gained real momentum with invitations to shipyards around the world to bid on the new build going out in 2014. This staggered process has allowed the most up-to-date and innovative technological developments to be incorporated into the design, in particular in relation to diesel-electric propulsion and the use of C02 refrigeration systems.
Marketing Manager Janet Robertson said the investment was significant, “to both CFL and the fishing industry more widely.”
In his speech Tom Blake said: “Key to our confidence in making such an investment, the largest single investment by a Falkland Islands company, is security of access to fishing which has been promoted and supported by the Falkland Islands Government. It is this confidence and security which allows us to look forward, to invest in the long-term development of our company to the wider benefit and development of the Falklands fishing industry.”
MLA Rendell spoke of the long and traditional links between the Galician and Falkland Islands fishing industries, emphasising the key role played by the former in the development of the industry in the Islands.
“Galicia has a long and noble tradition of fishing,” she said. “The people, their fishermen, have taken their craft to all corners of the world and have fostered the development of fisheries elsewhere. One of these corners of the earth was the Falkland Islands, which 30 years ago this year, in 1987, established a fishing zone in its waters and in doing so, transformed the economy and prospects of this small Island nation.
Fishermen from all over the world came looking for licences in squid and other finfish, but it was the Spanish who invested in local partners and thus have contributed so significantly to the growth of the industry in the Islands.” The Hunter is due to arrive in Stanley in the first week of April when an open day will be held.
More from the launch on page 2