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Good gear that does the job

Since freezer trawler Helga María AK was refitted last year to operate as a fresher, it has taken the crew a while to build up experience of this new way of working. According to skipper Eiríkur Ragnarsson, the equipment that was fitted during the refit has worked well, and it has been the grader in particular, used mainly to grade saithe, that has taken some getting used to.

‘We have done ten trips this year so far. Catches have been good, in spite of some difficult weather, and we have done well on cod and golden redfish. Saithe has been difficult, although from what I hear, the fishing on saithe has been improving,’ he said when we spoke to him during a trip off.

Helga María was fitted with a complete new catch handling deck after returning to Reykjavík from the yard in Poland and Eiríkur Ragnarsson said that; ‘What took time was to fine-tune the conveyors and other aspects of the reception area, but the catch chilling equipment has worked exceptionally well. The only thing that has been a struggle is the grader. We still have to get to grips with this and the sophisticated computer management system that runs it.’

For a skipper, it’s a big change running a fresher trawler after several decades of skippering a factory vessel.

‘I’m enjoying the change, even though it hasn’t been a long time so far and so it’s not easy to say much yet. I can’t hide the fact that it’s more stressful. On a freezer you could always get through a trip even though you might lose three days to bad weather, while on a fresher three days of heavy weather can ruin a trip. There has been no shortage of rough weather this winter. It seems that the depressions are deeper than in the past and the wind is stronger. But in spite of that, fishing has been excellent and we have been able to keep fishing,’ Eiríkur Ragnarsson said.