Largest vessel due for delivery

New Zealand's largest fishing vessel, the $70 million, 81.7m long Tokatu, is due to arrive in Nelson today, following its six-week delivery voyage from Norway.

Described as state-of-the-art, Tokatu is the first vessel added to the country's deepwater fleet in more than 20 years and is designed to fish for all species. It produces its base products at sea.

The vessel will be based in Nelson but is expected to make regular calls at Dunedin.

Tokatu was built over 16 months, for Sealord, by Simek shipyard in Flekkefjord, Norway.

Following sea trials, the vessel set off on its delivery voyage, via the Panama Canal, which has taken about six weeks.

Sealord chief executive Steve Yung said Tokatu was equipped with energy-production equipment which would allow the vessel to be driven by electricity. It would also hold fuel saving technology and new "precision seafood harvesting" technology, he said.

Sealord's shareholders are Maori-owned Moana New Zealand (Aotearoa Fisheries) and Japan's Nippon Suisan Kaisha, which are combining cash and bank debt to fund the $70million project.

Tokatu will complete final testing in Nelson before going to work on its maiden, four-week fishing trip off the South Island's West Coast.

It is expected to range as far north as New Plymouth, and to also travel along both coasts of the South Island, into subantarctic waters, and east around the Chatham Rise.

The vessel requires about 50 crew for each voyage, split into two shifts because the vessel sometimes operates 24/7, plus a full turnaround crew of 50 more onshore.

The name Tokatu comes from from the Maori proverb Te toka tu moana: the rock that stands in the ocean, a bulwark against adverse circumstances.

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