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Cleaner value chain in fisheries

The talk that Svavar Svavarsson, Director of Business Development at HB Grandi, held on the recent Environment Day of SA-Business Iceland gained considerable attention. In his speech, Svavar talked about the manner in which HB Grandi has addressed the climate issues of the company and managed to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases. Svavar revealed that HB Grandi had, for the purpose of achieving greater success, adopted an environmental management system that has been developed in co-operation with the innovation company Klappir. This collaborative project has been named “Cleaner value chain in fisheries” and targets the environmental, resource and supply chain management of the company.

Environmental information dashboard

According to Svavar, this project began in 2015, and it has reached the point that HB Grandi is developing a dashboard for all the environmental aspects involved in the company’s operations.

“This dashboard relates to both operational and environmental benefits. Thus the intention is that our employees can monitor the use of fuel, electricity, hot and cold water, waste sorting and other such environmental aspects, at sea and on land, in real time and over longer periods.”

The entire operation of HB Grandi emitted a total of approximately 65 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) in 2016, a reduction of 5% from the preceding year. 95% of the emissions in 2016 can be traced to the fuel use of the fishing vessels. It is interesting to note that the emission figures for waste are proportionately low when measured in CO2e, as HB Grandi sorts all its waste, both that which is generated at sea and that generated on land.

Mergers of fisheries companies reduces emissions

“As regards fuel use by the vessels of HB Grandi, this has been significantly reduced following mergers with a number of fisheries companies since 1985. The restructuring has meant that around 20 vessels have been removed from operation. These mergers have meant that the company’s quota has almost tripled but surprisingly the number of vessels has not increased. At present, HB Grandi operates 9 vessels, the same number of ships as in 1985, despite all the mergers with other companies after the merger of BÚR and Ísbjörninn since 1985.
Comparable developments have taken place in other fisheries companies all over Iceland,” says Svavar. He revealed, moreover, that the fuel use of Icelandic fishing vessels has decreased by around 33% during the period between 1990 and 2014.

Svavar says that the success of Icelanders in regards to fisheries, not least is due to their responsible use of resources, but is also a contributing factor in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.

“We have achieved successes by means of concentrated economisation and positive incentives, both as regards to new knowledge and skills in fishing operations and also positive developments in fish finding technology, development of fishing gear, fishing techniques, catch handling on board, etc. For these reasons and others, the catch per unit effort (CPUE) has, for instance, almost tripled during the period.”

New and more efficient fishing vessels further reduce emissions

“At present, HB Grandi is renewing its fleet of fishing vessels. The new fleet will consist of less number of vessels, with improved fishing performance that will, in addition, be more fuel efficient than the older vessels. The new ships will not be using heavy fuel oil, as the company has completely stopped using such fuel. In addition, the ships are experimenting with special pollution prevention equipment to reduce their emissions even further. With this new fleet of vessels, we posit that we will achieve an even better reduction in emissions over the next few years and can, at the same time, provide a much safer and better working environment for our crews.”

Sorting waste

Svavar says that the company views all waste from the fishing vessels as a risk factor for the environment.

“This is why our ships bring all their waste, roughly sorted, back on land and deliver it to the waste sorting facilities of the company. HB Grandi is operating waste sorting stations at all three of its locations in Iceland and has been considerably successful in increasing the proportion of sorted waste over the past three years. In 2016, 58% of waste from general operations was sorted as opposed to 37% the year before.

Electricity instead of fossil fuels

According to Svavar, it is extremely important that the fishing vessels are connected to electricity sources from land when they are docked, and the plan is to increase the use of electricity when in port rather than use fossil fuels and to use geothermal water from utilities on land for heating them instead of electricity whenever possible.

“Our fish meal plant in Vopnafjörður, for instance, has been operated for the most part by electricity instead of fossil fuels for the past seven years. In Akranes, the year-round fish meal plant runs entirely on electricity, and the plan is to convert the big seasonal plant to operate on electricity in the future,” says Svavar Svavarsson.

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