Racing for saithe before the year’s end
The quota year ends on the last day of August, and a new quota year is due to start next week. Skippers are now racing to catch what they have left of their 2014-15 quotas and for the trawler fleet that means saithe. Ævar Jóhannesson, skipper of freezer trawler Höfrungur III AK, and his crew have been busy on Westfjords grounds searching for saithe during their current trip.
‘It has been patchy. We have had a few good hits of saithe, but in between there hasn’t been much. On these same grounds a year ago we were into heavy fishing on saithe. August is often a good month off the west coast, but it seems everyone agrees that there’s less saithe about now than in previous years,’ he said.
Bad weather and heavy seas haven’t made fishing off the Westfjords any easier this time and he went so far as to say that this month deserves a place in the history books for its poor weather and rough conditions.
‘The weather has been miserable pretty much all through August. The sea ice is a long way off, which means that the wind can pick up. We’re getting 18m/sec wind speeds today and heavy seas with it. I couldn’t say what the wave height is, but the Straumnes wave buoy was showing a seven metre wave height not long ago and the conditions are much the same today. It’s a struggle to work in this,’ he said.
While saithe are scarce, the same isn’t true of cod on the Westfjords fishing grounds.
‘We’re trying to catch as little cod as possible, but the fishing on redfish is very good on those grounds. We had some very good shots of redfish in the Víkuráll gully. We also looked for Greenland halibut on the Hampidjan Square, but to do any good there takes time. You have to stay on the grounds and wait for the temperature changes to pass over. Not everyone has time for that, and that shows in the results,’ Ævar Jóhannesson said, commenting that he expects to be alongside in Reykjavík for a half landing at the end of the week. The way the system works is that the landing date dictates whether fish was caught in the present quota year or the next one.