New Bedford seafood giant Blue Harvest Fisheries is filing for bankruptcy

Blue Harvest Fisheries, the largest groundfish company on the East Coast, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Sept. 8, according to a series of filings in U.S. federal court in Delaware.

It is a move expected by some following the company’s quiet decision to close all fishing operations on September 1. Chapter 7 bankruptcies usually lead to liquidation.

The company filed nine separate bankruptcy cases involving 40 individual LLCs. According to the documents, the company’s assets range between $50 million and $100 million, and its liabilities are estimated at between $100 million and $500 million.

“They weren’t just underwater. It looks like they sank a long time ago,” said one Navy lawyer, who asked to remain anonymous because he is not involved in the case but has reviewed the documents.

The filings bring some transparency to the shadowy private equity-backed business venture that has been hushed up since its inception in 2015.


At the top of the long line of subsidiaries is Blue Harvest Fisheries Partners, LLC. Private equity firm Bregal Partners is listed as owning 89.5% of the parent company which owns 92.9% of all other subsidiaries, including the company’s ships, permits and other assets.

Bregal Partners is an investment arm of Cofra Holding AG, ultimately owned by a family of billionaire Dutch industrialists called the Brenninkmeijers. Foreign investors are limited to owning more than 25% of an American fishing vessel. It remains unclear whether Bregal Partners’ ownership of Blue Harvest violated foreign ownership limits. Enforcement of private maritime law is notoriously difficult and intermittent.

The remaining 10.5% of the parent company is owned by a group of former Blue Harvest executives, lawyers and financiers. They include Michael Arugetti, CEO of New York finance firm Ares Management, and former Blue Harvest executives Keith Decker and Jeffrey Davis. They also include Louise Lischowski, the wife of former Bumble Bee CEO Chris Lischowski, who took ownership of his stake in the company after being sentenced to 40 months in prison for conspiring to fix the prices of canned tuna.

Boats from Blue Harvest Fisheries, a company that has declared bankruptcy, are docked at the pier. Credit: Eleonora Bianchi/New Bedford Light

Each of them owns less than 2% of the company.

Unlike Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which gives a company an opportunity to restructure, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the closing and liquidation of all of the company’s assets in order to pay off debts. If assets don’t cover debts, the company can get out of the tab.

“I guess we don’t get paid,” said Randy Martin, a machinist at Harbor Hydraulics, which is adjacent to the Blue Harvest facility on the Fairhaven side of the harbor. Blue Harvest owes “a lot of companies a lot of money,” he said.

On Monday, the gates to the Blue Harvest facility were closed and a white security van parked in the vacant parking lot. The remaining boats in the Blue Harvest fleet were tied to the dock.

Editor’s Note: This developing news story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Email fishing industry reporter Will Sinnott at

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