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Steamed 300 miles between hauls searching for herring

‘It has been extremely slow the last few days. There is herring dispersed over a very wide area, but nowhere is it thick enough to be fishable. If you’re lucky enough to find a mark, you only have one chance at it before it’s gone,’ says skipper Lárus Grímsson of HB Grandi’s pelagic vessel Lundey NS.

Today Lundey and Ásgrímur Halldórsson are landing a total of 1200 tonnes at Vopnafjördur after having been pair trawling together. Lárus Grímsson says that over the weekend the whole Icelandic pelagic fleet has been searching for marks east and north-east of Iceland, as well as which Faroese vessels have also been searching and the Norwegians are now starting their own Atlanto-Scandian herring fishing.

‘It’s over a huge area. I have been searching for herring all along the east coast, out to the Faroese EEZ line and as far north as Jan Mayen and the Herring Loophole. The Faroese have been searching around Jan Mayen and towards the Norwegian zone and there are some Dutch trawlers fishing in the Svalbard zone who had some herring last week,’ says Lárus Grímsson, adding that although they can see herring, mackerel and even some blue whiting everywhere, the problem is finding a mark big enough to shoot on. There are no current borders or thermoclines to be found and there is a steady 8 to 10°C surface temperature everywhere, and the result is that the fish do not group themselves into shoals.

‘The situation is that you can steam for days and not get a result, as we have been doing. We took our first haul in the Little Deeps, the next one was where the Icelandic and Faroese EEZs meet the Herring Loophole and the third one was in the Jan Mayen zone, which is between 200 and 300 miles between hauls,’ he says and comments that skippers will simply have to wait for the herring to shoal for the migration to spawning grounds in Norwegian waters. HB Grandi has a 6000 tonne herring quota in Norwegian waters, so they will be able to follow the herring as they move eastwards.


No mackerel research

According to Lárus Grímsson, mackerel fishing has been excellent this summer and represents a serious bonus for the Icelandic herring fleet and he says that the mackerel season is coming to an end now so that the time has come to concentrate on herring again. He comments that fishermen are surprised that there has been no move from the Marine Research Institute to examine mackerel movements in Icelandic waters this summer.

‘To my mind, this is remarkable. Isn’t anyone charting this migration? Where does the mackerel come from and where does it go? There appears to be mackerel all around the country now that people have been noticing it everywhere and even fishing mackerel on rod and line in the Westfjords. But we could say the same about herring research – it’s something that could be done a lot better. The herring have to be somewhere,’ Lárus Grímsson concludes.