Commercial Fishing at Adventuress
First Fed sponsored content
As crabbing season approaches, the five-person crew of the fishing vessel Adventurous is about to set off. Led by owner and captain Sean Landon, they face long, brutal days preparing the vessel and transforming it from its role as a salmon fishing vessel in the summer season to an efficient crabbing vessel in the winter. There is anticipation and excitement at the start of a new season; A successful transition involves planning, data review, strategic decision-making, skillful teamwork, and a little luck. In short, it’s a real adventure.
Although Landon does not come from generations of fishermen, he entered the industry at an early age, landing his first job on a fishing trailer when he was just 12 years old. His family moved to Alaska after his father took a job in the logging industry. When Landon later got a job as a trawler on another ship, he knew he had found his true passion.
Trawling is a method that drops a long wall of nets in a large circle around a concentrated area of fish, then “walls” or closes the bottom of the net so that the fish cannot escape. Then the fishing vessel can lift the net out of the water and bring in the caught fish. However, fishing trolleys drag fishing lines with multiple hooks behind them across the ocean floor.
“I love the fast nature of fishing nets,” Landon said. “By trawling you can catch more produce, and weather conditions can be more extreme. It’s an exciting and demanding job, but it also provides the incredible beauty of being in the waters of the Pacific Northwest.”
Over the years, Landon worked on trawlers along the west coast of Alaska all the way to the Mexican border, with various catches including salmon, squid, herring and anchovies. After working 25 years in the industry, Landon is ready to captain his own fishing vessel. He chartered the vessel for two years, before purchasing the 58-foot Adventurous in 2016.
“Finding the right vessel is difficult, and you often have to move quickly,” Landon said. “That’s why it’s so important to have a strong relationship with your banker. Scott at First Fed has been a great partner to discuss business solutions with the rapidly evolving fish markets.
“It is a joy to partner with Sean Landon and his fishing business,” said Scott Montgomery, Marine Director of Commercial Banking at First Fed. “Sean and his crew are high performers in the Pacific Northwest. We look forward to supporting his business and future growth initiatives.”
Landon’s first focus on his new boat is salmon fishing along southeastern Alaska, an enterprise that sends the crew out on the water from June to September as they pursue areas open to fishing on any given day.
“Preserving our hunting grounds is really important,” Landon noted. “Everywhere our vessel goes everything we catch is recorded. This data helps protect the fishing grounds so the fish keep coming back.
In addition to vessel data, when fish arrive at processing plants, they are measured and inspected so state fish and wildlife departments can use the data to regulate fishing grounds. Rivers are also monitored by aircraft and boats to ensure healthy amounts of fish living upstream as well as environmental conditions such as oxygen levels in the water.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of signs of a healthier ocean lately,” Landon said. “The warming currents, the return of jellyfish, and a great year for fish off Alaska are all very encouraging.”
Facing a low season of fishing nets, Landon converted Adventurous to operate as a crabber, so he could catch crabs off the coast of Washington and Oregon. Compared to trawling, crab fishing is a short season that requires more strategy and quick adaptation based on conditions.
“Playing crab is like playing chess, where you have to make the right moves at the right time,” Landon explained. “You track the ocean floor, the weather, and other ships to find patterns so you can get to the right place. But you may also need to adapt quickly, so where and when to change your positions is very strategic.”
As with fishing nets, Landon records the number of pots or traps he places in any area when crabbing, so the data helps protect the area and preserve future fishing grounds. Soon, fishing boats will have a tracking system, so there will be better real-time data during fishing seasons.
Since fishing boats are limited in length if you are fishing in certain areas, a wider vessel may be beneficial, especially to increase the amount of crab pots the vessel can hold. In addition to the cost of purchasing a vessel, a fisherman must also take into account the cost of fishing permits, which can also reach several hundred thousand dollars. Most fishermen will need financing when starting or growing their business.
Landon added, “I moved my business accounts to First Fed because of their team. Everyone has been very responsive and knowledgeable, which is a refreshing change. It’s a real benefit to pick up the phone and be able to talk to Scott about business ideas and opportunities.”
Landon may consider upgrading to a wider ship in the future, but this season the adventurer is still his trusted companion. As they sail out of the Port of Seattle to begin the next fishing season, Landon will be contributing to one of Washington State’s economic pillars, its bustling marine industry.
To learn more about First Fed Marine Loans or to connect with a commercial lender, visit: https://www.ourfirstfed.com/business/loans/maritime-loans
First Fed is a member FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender.