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A Great Example of the Importance of Historic Preservation of Tall Ships

March 31, 2010

Tordenskjold to Celebrate Centennial: Halibut Schooner Still Fishing 100 hundred years later

Halibut Fleet to Parade in Seattle’s Elliott Bay as Part of Documentary Project

In what may be among the best examples of the longevity and long-term sustainability of Seattle’s commercial fishing fleet, the local halibut fleet celebrates the birthday of one of its longest serving members.

The Tordenskjold was built in Ballard 1911. She has been fishing continuously since she was launched and is currently owned by Captain Marvin Gjerde. She has travelled more than 1.2 million miles over the past century, chasing halibut, sablefish and ground fish all over the North Pacific.

On Wednesday, March 31st, the Tordenskjold will be joined by several other halibut schooners in a parade on Elliott Bay as part of a documentary of the fleet being filmed by John Sabella and Associates. 

Other vessels expected to participate included the Aleutian built in 1928, Seymour 1913 (built in Tacoma), Vansee 1913 (built in Ballard), Polaris 1913 (built in Ballard), Resolute 1924 (built in Ballard), Grant 1925 (built in Ballard),  North 1924 (built in Ballard), Masonic 1929 (built in Tacoma)

Halibut can weigh upwards of 460 lbs., and vessels like the Tordenskjold can carry 98,000 pounds of halibut, typically landing 25,000-40,000 per trip. The halibut and sablefish fisheries of the North Pacific are Marine Stewardship certified for sustainability.

The combined value of halibut and sablefish landed in 2009 was in excess of $700 million retail.

There were about 135 halibut schooners built in the Northwest from the about 1900 to 1928. Today, 22 of those vessels are still fishing.

The maritime and commercial fishing industries consist of some of Seattle’s oldest, most stable and most sustainable businesses. And they are continuously profitable. According to a city of Seattle study released in 2009 (Sommers, 2009), 16,000 people earn an average of $70,750 per year in the fishing and maritime industries. Employment in the maritime industry has grown 3% since 2002, and payroll has grown 20% in the same period. Today, the maritime and fishing industries contribute $5 billion to the regional economy.

Media Notes: the boats will leave from Fishermen’s Terminal Dock 3 at 7:30 AM on Wed., March 31st. The Vansee will be in charge of the group broadcasting on VHF Channel 16. The boats are scheduled to enter the large lock at about 8 to 8:30Am. All the boats are expected to enter the locks at once. They will proceed to the North Side of Elliot Bay and form a wedge with the Tordenskjold in the lead.

Beginning at about 10am the boats will sail southward, and vary configuration to include single file, and abreast.

A helicopter will be flying overhead filming the vessels for roughly an hour (10am-11am). After filming is completed the vessels will proceed back to dock 3 at Fishermen’s Terminal. That trip should also take about an hour (11am-12pm)

(Photo: Attu shown in Seattle’s Lake Union circa 1920. Courtesy North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners)

Contact: Bob Alverson, Fishing Vessel Owners Assn.

(206) 283-7735


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