Demand for More Efficient Deck Equipment Among Trends in Sector

Palfinger Marine’s PFM 2100 crane. Photo: Palfinger.

Concerns over fish prices, more electrical equipment for decks and suppliers stocking up – all are emerging trends in deck equipment in the fishing industry. But in a sector grappling with increasing costs and stricter regulations, greater efficiency provided by equipment may be the trend that stands out.

Stricter regulations in particular, which vary by nation as well as U.S. states, are having an impact. Fishing activity in California, for example, has changed over time largely due to increased regulation, according to data from California Sea Grant and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Data from NOAA Fisheries bears that out. It shows 186,235,203 tons were landed by commercial fishermen in the state in 2022. The data overall reflects a downward trend, falling from 188,045,817 tons in 2015 and 438,871,558 tons in 2010. In 2000, the figure was 650,595,871 tons.

Data for Washington shows 159,888,510 tons landed in Washington in 2022, down from 216,639,531 tons in 2005. Oregon’s figures also show an overall downward trend: 286,179,102 tons in 2022, down from 312,274,025 in 2005.


Besides the demand for more efficient equipment, several suppliers cited vastly differing emerging trends that they’re experiencing.

Integrity Machining & Kolstrand Marine Equipment, for example, has seen business slow due to broader market dynamics. However, the company took the slowdown as an opportunity to replenish its stock.

“We have experienced a significant decrease in business for 2024 due to the collapse of the wholesale price of fish,” Rachel Kaiser, a customer support/sales representative with the Marysville, Wash.-based company, told Fishermen’s News.

“Currently, we have a much shorter lead time for new product availability and equipment rebuilds,” she remarked. “Customers are showing hesitation towards typical repairs and equipment upgrades, but this has allowed us to increase our stocking levels.”

As a result of the buildup, Kaiser said the company has a variety of completed winches in stock for “almost immediate shipping.”

A Kolstrand Marine Equipment NORDIC 24-inch longline hauler. Photo: Kolstrand.

Kaiser said the company is also seeing building demand for its NORDIC 24-inch longline haulers.

“We are still consistently seeing haulers for upgrades to provide more torque when using slinky pots,” Kaiser said. “By converting to a 4.8:1 gearbox, we can increase pulling power by 40% while maintaining the same hydraulic flow and pressure.”

At Kongsberg Maritime, in Kongsberg, Norway, a noteworthy trend has been a switch to electrical winches for fishing equipment.

“It started with stern-bottom trawlers, which (have) the most power consumption,” Robert Vorren, the company’s chief designer for fishery and ship design, explained. “Lately, it has been a trend that even pelagic vessels choose electrical-driven deck equipment, even fish pumps.”

More trawls is another new, key development that the company has seen in recent years.

“For whitefish, most use double trawls and for shrimp, many northern Atlantic vessels use three trawls, and vessels with up to five trawls are coming,” Vorren said. “The trend is that the capacity for the equipment must be sufficient to get big catch when a large school of fish is found.”

Bernd Huemer, global sales manager marine cranes with Palfinger Marine GMBH, was encouraged by developments in the aquaculture market.

“We did not witness any major game changers in terms of deck equipment/technology for the aquaculture industry in the past few years,” the manager said. “However, we generally do see a growing aquaculture market – a result of the growing world population and thus also the demand for food.”

Another important trend he has noticed involves digitization and data collection.

“Even though aquaculture might lag behind compared to other industries in this regard, we can see these ambitions becoming more relevant by the day, such as crane utilization reports, service interval data and alarms,” Huemer said.


Trends in demand for equipment can be boiled down to three main characteristics: greener, more efficient and size-specific.

“The demand is about less power consumption and more effective fishing gear,” Vorren said.

He also has seen ship owners spend more on fish-searching equipment as a potential answer to more stringent rules and fishing regulations around the globe.

“Fish quotas is, as always, a topic in all areas and countries, hence the capacity of the vessels and fishing methods are always a consideration,” Vorren said. “For some areas, the consideration is bigger hold capacity to have less transfer and longer trips and for other areas the consideration is smaller vessels to minimize (capital and operating expenditures) as the fishing grounds are closer to delivery points.”

Huemer believes demand is and will continue driving a need for larger vessels, and therefore bigger lifting equipment.

“Due to growing fish farms, we can generally see the vessels getting larger in size, too,” Huemer said. “This, in turn, is also reflected in the size of the marine cranes that are needed, especially in terms of outreach and capacity.”

Palfinger Marine GMBH is gearing up to launch its new PFM 2100 crane series at the SMM trade show in Hamburg, Germany this September. The model features a 29-meter (95-foot) maximum outreach at a high-load capacity.

Isaac Oczkewicz is general manager of La Conner Maritime Service, Smiley’s Pro Services and Maritime Fabrications Inc. The businesses, which primarily cater to the salmon gillnet fleet, have been going through a slow period due to pricing and market uncertainty, according to Oczkewicz.

“When it picks back up, the demand will be for reliable, simple equipment that is as trouble-free and easy to maintain as possible,” he said.


Many new technologies in the space are being developed to answer growing demands for greater efficiency.

“We see that the demand for utilizing the waste and offal from the fish is more relevant, this can be such as meal, ensilage or just offal separation and freezing the product,” Vorren said. “There is a lot of machinery out there continuously being improved, but the interesting issue is that the market is developing to utilize everything taken onshore.”

In recent times, Vorren said, he’s seen a greater focus on development of new equipment technology. Placing emphasis on fish-searching and fish-finding technologies caters to the understanding that it’s important to avoid long transfers without finding fish.

“Tech for in-water sensor buoys, unmanned small-surface crafts and satellite-aided searching is being developed and are growing in use,” Vorren said. “This was formerly not used within (the) fishery segment, but seems like as the cost for tech is decreasing as the cost for fuel is increasing, the point of cost levelling is getting closer for increasing number(s) of fisheries.”

Oczkewicz pointed to Maritime Fabrications’ new partnership with Marine Hydraulic Consultancy out of Poulsbo, Wash., to design and build a new gillnet drum design with freewheeling and dynamic braking.

Two of the units are in service and they have performed well, “but they are significantly more expensive than the next best option on the market, which puts the technology out of reach for many fishermen,” Oczkewicz said.

Maritime Fabrications is also planning to bring the dynamic braking technology used on the drum design to the company’s standard drum styles and offer it as an upgrade or retrofit option for customers.

“This,” Oczkewicz said, “is still in the works.”   

Don Jergler has been a professional journalist for more than 25 years, covering insurance, real estate and more. He spent two decades as a reporter at several daily newspapers, then entered business-to-business reporting. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Post, Orange County Register and numerous B2B publications. He’s currently the Western Region editor of Insurance Journal.