Kewatec AluBoat

Case: Kewatec Patrol 1560


Martti Vaahtoranta, 3.7.2019

Fisherman, fisheries officers and fish rolls

”Same as yesterday, or do you want something different?”

Warnemünde, Alter Strom. The people of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Fisheries Control Agency (LALLF Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) in Rostock have guests from Finland, the people from Kewatec AluBoat shipyard. We are sitting in the wheelhouse of the new “Steinbutt” fish inspection vessel (Kewatec Patrol 1560) built in Kokkola. It is lying on the “Mittelmolen” side of its predecessor, the old “Steinbutt”.

Fishermen with their boats are passing us heading to the sea. Many raise their thumbs up and grin. A new boat has been noticed and adored.

We have a lot to talk about in the helm of Steinbutt and day is still young. Now it is lunch time.

But no worries. The future skipper of ‘Steinbutt’, Fish Inspection Master Christian Kupfer, takes the responsibility for the situation. The crew and guests have to make one difficult choice: what kind of delicious fish-filled rolls we will eat today. Everyone can choose their own sort from the wide range of sandwich booth nearby.

Fishermen under pressure of quotas and foreign competition

However, there is not only local fish available. One of the most popular rolls is filled with smoked seafood, which has been caught in the waters of the North Atlantic or the Arctic Ocean.

Local fishermen have to compete with imported fish for the market place. This phenomenon is also known in Finland: fishermen in the Baltic Sea is a threatened species, even though the amount of catches is good.

On the other hand, the good catches are not self-evident. The growth or decrease of one species may have a positive or negative impact on the strain of another species. That is why fishing is regulated by rules and quotas.

The sea is not an inexhaustible food producer, and the Baltic Sea, our small inland sea, is a sensitive ecological entity that needs to be taken care of. It is also in the interest of fishermen, even though the rules imposed on them may cause annoyance and feel strange. For without fish there would be no fishermen. And that is for our benefit, because without the fishermen, our rich fish culture would fall into the hands of a few imported species and farmed fish.

Fish inspectors protect fish and fishermen

In this tension between environmental protection, fishermen and trade, Rostock fish inspectors are doing their job. They are the servants of both biodiversity and the fishing industry. Their job is to make sure that both professional and recreational fishermen have the needed licenses, that traps they use are permitted, that undersized fish are left to grow, and that there is fishing only at permitted timeframe.


Fishermen, their vessels and their catches are also inspected manually onshore, but above all, at sea within the 12 nautical mile zone. Thus, the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania State Fisheries Control Authorities alone are responsible for the upkeep of eight vessels, the maintenance of the fleet and the purchase of new boats. The controlled area extends the entire coast of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, extending east to the border with Poland.

The Kewatec Patrol 1560 is the latest acquisition in the Rostock fish inspection fleet. However, it is not its first Finnish boat. There are already four of them. Two of them are built right next to Kewatec. Kokkola is not far from northern Germany.

To make the equipment more agile, but sturdy

As a “Bigger Sister” in the LALLF Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s fleet they have the “old Steinbutt” built in Bavaria, replaced by a boat made by Kewatec. The new Steinbutt is smaller than its predecessor, but it is also much more agile in its movements. As such, it performs its inspection tasks in a wide area of responsibility from the Wustrow headland to the Darßer Orti, even when the small crew has to do more.

“In addition to this, we expected high quality and longevity of the boat in rough tasks, we also wanted low fuel consumption in relation to its performance. It was important for us to be able to catch in to the other boat or fixed trap side by side,” says Michael Schmitt, Executive Officer for Boat Purchasing.

Mr Schmitt is a former professional seafarer who has also sailed in the seas of the world. Now, alongside his other duties, he led the new boat acquisition process and also oversaw it by visiting Kokkola alone or with Christian Kupfer.

The procurement process was long, the construction process precise

Kewatec was awarded a European wide call for tender to build a new fish inspection boat. “The road from project budgeting through a tendering process was far too long,” says Michael Schmitt. “On the other hand, Kewatec was able to build the boat quickly,” he adds.

This was done despite the fact that “Steinbutt” was built and equipped according to German national rules. It was a new challenge for Kewatec. “Steinbutt” is its first boat built to Germany, and the rules are demanding and comprehensive.

There were always new questions along the way, to which we had to find the answer and the problems that had to be solved. Nonetheless, the boat was completed just over a year after the contract was signed and could be properly handed over after test drive during Christmas 2018 to its owner in Warnemünde.

Smooth and pleasant work for the common good

Michael Schmitt separately praises the process of designing and manufacturing the boat. “Instead, it is still a little early to estimate whether the new boat will really help to reduce our operating costs or improve its safety and efficiency. However, it seems to be happening “, he says, and adds:

“Cooperation and communication with Kewatec and its staff have so far been a very positive experience for us.”

And it has been. And in this way, from the Gulf of Bothnia we can also be in help to meet the common challenge for the southern Baltic. When experience on both sides is good, you can hope for success in the future also.