The Icelandic fishing fleet has landed to date over 100,000 tonnes of the 168,000 tonnes of mackerel quota allocated for 2020
It has been reported that the Icelandic fishing fleet has landed more than 100,000 tonnes out of the 168,000 tonnes the government set as the quota for 2020.
The mackerel season can be expected to last until mid-September, at which time pelagic vessels will start fishing for Norwegian-Icelandic herring.
According to the Directorate of Fisheries website, more than 41,000 tonnes of mackerel have been caught in Icelandic jurisdiction, almost a thousand tonnes were caught as bycatch in the blue whiting fishery around the Faroe Islands and more than 58,000 tonnes outside the territorial waters, that is in Síldarsmugunn, east of the country. Over 50,000 tonnes of mackerel have been caught there in August, or about half of what Icelandic vessels have caught this year.
Lately, most fishing has taken place near Norwegian waters and the fish have often disappeared beyond the borders. There has been a day difference in catches, very good one day, but so small the next.
Jón Gunnar Sigurjónsson, chief foreman at Síldarvinnslan’s fish processing plant in Neskaupstaður, says that processing of mackerel has been successful so far this season with 21,300 tonnes have been received.
The mackerel has been either decapitated, filleted or whole frozen. Jón says that it has some effect on the processing of how far you have to go to get the mackerel.
“It causes some difficulties that the mackerel should not be caught here at the town door. The ships have to pick them up in Smugunn, which is a 30 hour trip or more. The fishing there has been hectic. All this has made it difficult to maintain continuous processing. For example, we finished 1,400 tonnes from Beitir last night and then we cleaned last night. We then hope to get raw materials tomorrow, but last night it was cold on the fishing grounds so it is uncertain,” says Jón Gunnar.
The fish factory employs about 100 people during the mackerel season. Work is done in three-part 12-hour shifts, and in each shift 27 work directly in production.
There was very good mackerel fishing in Smugunn towards the end of the week and three of the vessels connected to Síldarvinnslan have landed. The Bjarni Ólafsson AK finishes landed over 1,000 tons in Neskaupstaður on Friday. Beitir NK is on its way to Neskaupstadur with 1,700 tons and was expected in the afternoon. Margrét EA is on her way to the Faroe Islands with 1,260 tons and Börkur NK is on her way to Florö in Norway with 930 tons.
The reason for travelling to unload in other countries outside Iceland is that the fishing exceeds the capacity of the fish processing plant in Neskaupstaður.
Síldarvinnslan’s website talked to Tómas Kárason, captain of Beitir, and asked for news. “The 1,700 tonnes we have are quality raw materials. This is an edible fish and the average weight is over 500 grams. This can hardly get any better. It was a very good catch yesterday and then we took the last haul. This was a 400 tonne haul. We had been fishing for quite some time when the fish suddenly appeared and these 400 tonnes came into the trawl in an hour and a half. The catch we have was obtained in five hauls; we took three hauls and Börkur two. The cooperation of the vessels fishing on behalf of Síldarvinnslan has been very successful throughout the season and this is a very sensible arrangement, not least when it comes to fishing. When we arrived in Neskaupstadur today, they were finishing working on Bjarni Ólafsson, so this all fits in perfectly,” says Tómas.
As mentioned earlier, Börkur is on his way to Norway where he will land his catch. Captain Hjörvar Hjálmarsson says that the catch was obtained in a short time.
“The catch was obtained in two hauls, one we took and the other Margrét. We towed for 55 minutes and when we had pumped the catch on board, Margrét then waited for us to pump from their trawl. We will come to Florö at nine in the evening and there they work 50 to 70 tons per hour so we will be ready there tomorrow. When things go like this on the fishing grounds, it’s just a dream come true,” says Hjörvar.