Herring Streak Continues, Blue Whiting on Agenda, More money for Marine Research, High Seas Treaty, and more – Icelandic Fishing News Photo: Síldarvinnslan/Þorgeir Baldursson
Barði NK Prepares for Blue Whiting Fishing
Síldarvinnslan has reported that its fishing boat Barði NK is expected to head out for blue whiting fishing either this afternoon or tonight.
The company’s website spoke with Þorkell Pétursson, the skipper, and asked where they would be fishing.
“We will take the fishing gear today, and then we will head straight to Rósagarður Rose Garden). There has been news of fish there. In recent years, ships have fished well in Rósagarður around this time of year, and the fishing has lasted for several weeks. I’ve heard of several ships starting their fishing there. It’s going to be exciting, and people are optimistic. It’s always good to go after blue whiting this time of year because it’s also caught much farther from shore, as people know,” says Þorkell.
Hafþór Eiríksson, the operations manager of the fishmeal factory of Síldarvinnslan, said that last year the first landing of blue whiting from Rósagarður was on 27 September, and it was Barði that brought 760 tonnes to Neskaupstaður.
“It was the best catch in October last year, and it has been like that in recent years. At this time of year, the fish is fat and provides excellent raw material for processing. For example, it is much fatter than it was in the spring. I expect that blue whiting will be landed at the Síldarvinnslan factories in Neskaupstaður and Seyðisfjörður. We will be ready to receive the raw material,” says Hafþór.
Börkur NK arrived in Neskaupstaður the Monday night 18 September, with nearly 1,700 tonnes of Norwegian-Icelandic herring. The processing of the catch began at the Síldarvinnslan fish processing plant late on Tuesday afternoon when they finished unloading the herring from Beitir NK.
The company website talked to Hjörvar Hjálmarsson, captain of Börkur, and first asked where the catch had been made.
“We caught the herring inside Héraðsflóa. It was in five hauls, with 350 to 400 tonnes in each catch. We were fishing for two and a half to three hours. It went very well because we were only about 30 miles from home. This is the finest herring suitable for processing, and 15-20% of the catch is Icelandic summer-spawning herring. This fishing is quite convenient since we only have to go about 30 miles to reach the herring grounds. There’s a significant amount of herring on the way, and it’s mostly in Héraðsflóa and north in Bakkaflói. There has been little searching to the south, but in recent years, the herring has moved southward as summer progresses. Fishing started earlier this year than in previous years, and it’s been going very well. However, now it’s quite stormy, and I don’t think any ships are out. The storm will probably continue until Friday,” said Hjörvar.
Enhancing Marine Research and Ecosystem Resilience in Fjord Systems
Iceland’s government’s budget proposal for the year 2024 includes an increased contribution to marine research at the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) amounting to 180 million ISK.
The Government’s goal for this increase is to create conditions for increased value creation in the marine industry.
Without strengthening the MFRI’s operational base, the contribution will be used for a comprehensive assessment of marine and freshwater ecosystems and their protection. This includes systematic mapping of habitats in addition to projects on biological diversity within key species.
There will also be initiatives related to the effects of climate change and ocean acidification, as well as improving the institution’s specimen collection for stock assessments. Additionally, efforts in analysing the overall impact of human activities on the environment, connections to international agreements on biodiversity, and an increased focus on the institution’s administrative tasks, such as evaluations, will be prioritised. The sustainability days of marine research vessels will also be increased, ensuring their operation.
According to the financial plan, the contribution is expected to increase in the coming years, reaching around 630 million ISK from the year 2026 onwards. This is part of government measures to strengthen the regulatory framework, the marine industry, and aquaculture.
Furthermore, funding of 126 million ISK is allocated to support MFRI projects in the field of fjord ecosystem resilience, including sediment distribution, environmental impact assessment of fish farming, risk assessment of genetic mixing, and research on the distribution of salmon and fish lice. It is estimated that the contribution will increase in the coming years, reaching approximately 226 million ISK from the year 2026 onwards.
“The institution plays a crucial role in researching marine ecosystems and serves an advisory role in sustainable resource utilisation in the sea and freshwater. By strengthening the institution’s activities, we enhance the future prospects for upcoming generations,” stated Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the Minister of Fisheries. “By doing so, we increase the opportunities for future generations to prosper.”
Iceland’s Marine Institute Research Vessel Runs Aground
Thorsteinn Sigurðsson, director of the Norwegian Maritime Research Institute, says that it is not known exactly what happened when the marine research ship Bjarni Sæmundsson ran aground in Tálknafjörður at ten o’clock last night, Thursday 21 September.
“When this happens, the first and last thing is to think about the people, and that’s what the project has been about. The details of exactly what happened are still to come to light, and I haven’t even asked about it because the most important thing to me was that everyone was safe.”
The ship was conducting research and monitoring the spawning grounds in Arnarfjordur and Isafjordur Deep. At the time, research and monitoring of the effects of fish farming were also being carried out. According to Thorsteinn, there were 20 people on board, six researchers, and a crew of 14.
“People are still coming to terms with the situation, and we are assessing the damage. But above all, we are grateful that it didn’t turn out
Thorsteinn claims not to know about any damage or its extent, if any exists, but divers are at work.
“Decisions about the future will be made in light of the divers’ findings. They should be in the water now, based on the news that reached me this morning.”
Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries caught-up in Brim Fines Scandal
The Icelandic Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Svandís Svavarsdóttir has found herself caught-up in the controversy over fish processor Brim.
It was reported on mbl.is Tuesday 19 September, that daily fines imposed by the Competition Authority (SKE) on the fishing company Brim, amounting to ISK 3.5 million, were illegal and SKE’s decision from 19 July was annulled by the Competition Appeals Committee.
It was stated in an announcement from SKE on Wednesday 20 September, that following the decision of the appeals committee, the Competition Authority considers that the conditions for the agreement between the Competition Authority and the Ministry of Food have been broken and will request discussions with the Ministry about its termination.
Iceland signs the new UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on Biological Diversity
Iceland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs signs the agreement at the United Nations headquarters in New York, USA
Iceland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs signed a new agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the protection and sustainable use of biological diversity in the sea beyond the jurisdiction of states (Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction, BBNJ). Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir signed the agreement at the UN headquarters in New York, USA, where she is attending the organisation’s 78th General Assembly on behalf of Iceland.
It is a major turning point, but the agreement has been in the making for a long time. The Icelandic government emphasised that the agreement would be completed, in light of the great interests of the nation when it comes to the health of the oceans and respect for the Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“Iceland should be in the lead when it comes to international cooperation on ocean issues. It is not only in our interest, but we have a lot to offer and we, like other nations that rely on the ocean, have a constantly better understanding of the importance of the ocean’s ecosystem,” says Þórdís Kolbrún, whose representatives from Iceland took an active part in the negotiations from the beginning and had a considerable effect on the result. Iceland’s negotiating committee was made up of representatives of the Ministry of Food, the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which also chaired it.
The agreement is materially divided into four main parts; utilisation of genetic resources, regional measures, including protected areas, marine environmental assessment and capacity building or transfer of marine technologies for use in developing countries
It also contains important provisions on environmental protection on the high seas as well as regulations that support the world’s governments to achieve their goal of protecting 30% of ocean areas by 2030.
The agreement enters into force when 60 countries have ratified it.