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Strike over – fleet at sea

All of the HB Grandi fleet is now at sea, with the exception of pelagic vessel Víkingur which is currently on the slipway. All four fresher trawlers were back at sea following the short strike along with factory trawler Höfrungur III and pelagic vessel Venus. Factory trawlers Therney and Örfirisey are still steaming home from fishing in the Russian zone of the Barents Sea.

There is poor weather on fishing grounds west of Iceland, and it is even worse off the Westfjords with the present strong northerly winds.

‘The crew are relieved to be back at sea and that the strike didn’t last long. I don’t recall such a quick resolution to a dispute in all my years at sea,’ said Heimir Guðbjartsson, skipper of Helga María, one of the three trawlers that sailed from Reykjavík on Tuesday evening. The others were Ásbjörn and Höfrungur III.

‘We’ve started on the mountains and fishing on redfish has been slow. So we’ve shifted northwards and are now looking for redfish in the Kolluáll Gully. There has been a storm blowing these last few days with wind speeds of 20m/sec. Things are even rougher on the Westfjords grounds, which is where we’re heading. I’m confident that we’ll see decent weather as soon as the north wind dies away,’ he said.

‘We’re in the Darkness,’ said Arnar Ævarsson, skipper on Höfrungur III, when we spoke to him earlier today.

The Darkness is an area past the Skerja Deeps off the Reykjanes peninsula, and he said that they have been chasing deep sea redfish, which is a stock that has been lightly fished recently.

‘We have been getting deep sea redfish mixed with silver smelt, but no big amounts. We were scratching a living on it before the strike for a few days in the Skerja Deeps. Now there’s a storm blowing here,’ he said, commenting that like most people, he is hoping for a positive result when the settlement proposals on the new union agreements are balloted on the 14th of December.

‘I’m hoping the agreements will be passed by the membership. It’s great that a settlement on fish pricing has been reached, but hat doesn’t make any difference to crews on factory vessels. We’re linked directly to the market, so the króna gaining strength affects us,’ he said.