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Groundfish production is employment lifeline

‘I hate to think what things would have been like without this groundfish production. Over this winter we have seen staff at the pelagic processing plant with virtually no work since the end of the herring season in November, and until the start of the mackerel season in July there wouldn’t have been much for them without this cod processing,’ said Magnús Róbertsson, production manager at HB Grandi’s Vopnafjörður location.

HB Grandi’s management decided in 2016 to set up groundfish processing in Vopnafjörður to take out the fluctuations and to establish a greater continuity in the company´s fish processing there. The company already had premises for this production, using the old Tangi freezing plant, and the decision was taken to use this for production of fresh cod.

‘The building was stripped out and everything inside has been replaced. The floors are new and the electrics were completely replaced. All of the production equipment is new. The production hall itself is on the ground floor, there is equipment in the basement and staff facilities are on the upper floor,’ he said, adding that the refurbishment was complete in April last year.

‘There are 65 to 70 of us who are permanent staff at the pelagic processing factory and even when there are breaks in production, there is still a need for staff for cleaning and maintenance work. Cod production calls for 35 staff, and this has made it possible to keep all of the permanent staff on the payroll all year round. This is important as these people have skills and experience. We would probably always be able to find staff for the pelagic factory, but we would not otherwise be able to be sure of having the best people.’

20-23 tonnes per day

Magnús Róbertsson said that their groundfish production has worked solely with raw material from HB Grandi’s trawlers.

‘We get cod delivered by truck, mainly from Reykjavík, although last winter the trawlers made quite a few landings in Ísafjörður and some of the cod came from there. Production here in Vopnafjörður generally works 20 to 23 tonnes per day, and products are fresh loins and fillets. This is the same production pattern as at the Norðurgarður location in Reykjavík, and we’re working for the same market. We run things with a ten-hour working day four days a week and don’t have production on Fridays. The reason is that we can’t connect with the freighter sailing from Reyðarfjörður on Fridays, but as well as using regular shipping routes we also send fish with the Norræna ferry that sails from Seyðisfjörður once a week,’ Magnús Róbertsson said.