Icelandic freezer trawlers like the Videy above have found their fishing frustrated by a haddock explosion

Icelandic freezer trawlers like the Videy above have found their fishing frustrated by a haddock explosion

Brim’s fresher trawler Viðey landed in Reykjavík last weekend with 200 tonnes of fish on board.

Skipper Jóhannes Ellert Eiríksson, best known as Elli, said that catch rates have been excellent and there has been perfect weather on the fishing grounds since April.

“We have done well on fishing grounds off the south-west. There’s that much fish that we’ve stuck to one trawl. If we worked the twin-rig gear, then we’d need a bigger crew to cope with the volume of fish,” he said, adding that catches have been roughly equal amounts of saithe, cod, haddock and redfish during the last few trips.

“Saithe behave as usual, and they come and go. The unexpected abundance of haddock has caused us problems. I don’t remember anything like it in all my time at sea. There’s an unprecedented abundance of haddock all around the country. I’ve no idea where all this fish comes from. Up to now we have seen haddock as a bycatch with other fisheries. But now there’s so much of it as a bycatch that a lot of trawlers have found themselves struggling. It’s a big help to have the extra 8000 tonnes that was added to the haddock quota recently, but that increase has to come off next year’s quota,” he said.

Other skippers have been finding a lot of haddock in their nets and it is causing a little frustration.

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 “I can say we have done well. We had a gross weight of 800 tonnes for 27 days’ fishing. There would have been a better catch if there hadn’t been haddock getting in our way everywhere. Although I hear the haddock quota was lifted by 8000 tonnes a few days ago, I understand that comes off next year’s quota,” said Haraldur Árnason, skipper of Brim’s factory trawler Höfrungur III, when we called to ask how things had been going.

Höfrungur III docked in Reykjavík after a month-long trip. Haraldur said that they started fishing on the Eldey Bank and spent most of the trip there.

“We were asked to concentrate on saithe. That went well enough but wherever we dipped a trawl in the water there was a bycatch of haddock. Even on well-known golden redfish grounds we were getting some haddock as well, and I think I’m right in saying that we had 80 tonnes of haddock, even though we avoided it as much as we could. There is a lot of golden redfish over a wide area, but skippers have had to hold back on it because their haddock quotas are so small.”

He said that a half-landing was made ten days into the trip, equivalent to a gross weight of 370 tonnes of fish.

“Then we headed for the south-west grounds. We were mostly in the Eldey Bank area. We didn’t try the Selvogur Bank, as those grounds were closed off when we started fishing. We had a quick look in the Skerja Deeps but didn’t stay long. We were expected to catch some Greenland halibut as well, and so we went north to the Westfjords grounds for that. The Greenland halibut grounds are off the Hampiðjan Square and we also went all the way to Geirsstaðir, which is WSW of the Hali grounds. That area is a long way off, not far from the Dohrn Bank,” Haraldur Árnason said, adding that fishing for Greenland halibut wasn’t as productive as they had hoped due to the heavy sea ice in the area.

“We managed one decent day, and then the ice drifted across and that stopped us fishing. From there we went to the Víkuráll Gully and did well on saithe. We had production running all through the trip, apart from the days we spent looking for Greenland halibut,”Harladur Árnason finished.

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Icelandic freezer trawlers’ fishing hampered by haddock explosion

by editor time to read: 8 min