De Boer RVS
De Boer RVS
De Boer RVS
De Boer RVS

New sorting machine built in Makkum is the future of shrimp fishing

De Boer RVS

De Boer RVS in the Dutch fishing village of Makkum in Friesland has been working on it since 2012. After extensive testing at sea, it is now ready for use. What it is? A new fully automated onboard shrimp processing line with state-of-the-art facilities and progressive workflow innovations for shrimp fishing vessels.

The onboard processing line sorts shrimp into three commercial size categories while the vessel is still out at sea. After being sorted according to the number of pixels, which is extremely innovative, the shrimp are cooked, cooled, graded and prepared for processing by the buyer. After purchase on shore or at the fish auction, they can immediately be peeled and delivered directly to supermarkets and the catering industry.

“Processing has to be exact. Anything less reduces the quality of the shrimp. Everything is very precisely orchestrated,” says inventor Melle de Boer (52). The new machine also ensures that bycatch, which includes larger fish and shrimp less than 6.8 millimetres in size, is released straight back into the sea through a kind of chute.

Makkum-born De Boer has been working on the design of this ideal machine since 2012 – and with good reason. He has been helped by the Van Eekelen fishing family in Den Oever and has field tested the machine on two of their vessels (the WR289 and the WR9). Most of the teething problems have been resolved and the processing line is now ready for use.

The capabilities and environmental sustainability of the processing line have been confirmed by a scientific report. The project is financially supported by the Waddenfonds investment fund, which recognises that this kind of processing supports fish stocks in the Wadden Sea and helps keep ecosystems in balance.

Despite the decreasing number of vessels in the shrimp fishing industry, De Boer sees plenty of opportunities. With little competition in the Netherlands, he also focuses sales efforts on Germany, Denmark and Norway. At the same time, he likes to be at the forefront, inventing useful new applications that combine sustainability with economic efficiency and profitability.

It is not feasible for the company to manufacture such an innovative shrimp processing line on its own, so De Boer is keen to mention the companies he works with: Cadfix Engineering (which contributes ideas and produces technical drawings) and shrimp wholesalers Heiploeg and Kegge, which are interested in purchasing and processing the shrimp. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) contributed to the thinking around the product, and the subject-matter expertise and moral support provided by Nederlandse Vissersbond (the Dutch Fishermen’s Association) should definitely not go unmentioned.

The company has recently undergone a brand refresh with a new logo and a new website. Melle’s twin sons, 22-year-old Gerben and Dooitze, are shouldering more of the responsibilities in the day-to-day running of the business, while Melle focuses on inventing and developing innovative solutions. He also helps his sons manage the business when they ask him to.

The company currently employs 14 people at its new premises and still does all of its stainless steel work in house, with laser cutting machines and other manufacturing technologies. De Boer RVS serves many markets. Launched in 2002, the company moved to larger premises on Strânwei road in the Dutch fishing village of Makkum in 2006, and had new premises built on the same site in 2018.

“If I can develop new products, I’m happy,” says Melle de Boer. He is an innovative machine builder, modern-day steel worker and market-leading supplier to sustainable fish and processing chains in the shrimp fishing industry. The latest innovation by De Boer RVS, one that has won the largest contract in the company’s history, is a fly farming and larvae processing plant yet to be built in Germany, which is set to be the largest fly farm in Europe.

Melle de Boer aims to create a future that supports shrimp fishing, ensuring that people have enough to eat without the need for overfishing. Achieving this balance is an interesting challenge. The shrimp processing line developed by De Boer RVS records exactly how much shrimp is caught at which locations: from ship to shelf. This enables companies and various agencies to keep a close eye on fish stocks. Another helpful feature.

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