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Quarter of townspeople processing mackerel

Mackerel production at HB Grandi’s Vopnafjördur factory as been running at full speed recently. The factory normally employs a staff of 120 to 150 people, and sometimes even more when things are really busy. At the beginning of the year, Vopnafjördur had 527 registered residents, and taking into account people from out of town and former townspeople who have come back to work during the mackerel season, one could say that a quarter of the local population is involved in producing the values that the pelagic fishery brings.

The Vopnafjördur factory’s quality control manager Thorgrímur Kjartansson told us that production has been going very well recently. Fishing is steady, the mackerel are bigger and it makes a difference now that a third vessel has been brought into to the fishery, with the arrival of Lundey NS after having completed its summer refit.

‘We are running practically at full capacity around the clock. There are occasional breaks of a couple of hours while we wait for a landing. Recently we have been processing clean mackerel and the average weights has risen significantly. The largest grades are wholefrozen while the smaller ones are processed as H&G. Everything is utilised and there is very little that goes to produce oil and fishmeal,´ he said.

The HB Grandi factory at Vopnafjördur is run with rotating shifts, with three at work and the fourth resting, and after a twelve-day period, there is a four-day break. In addition, there are employees who are under 18 and who may by law not work more than six days in a row.

‘Most of the staff are on twelve-hour shifts, while some work eight-hour shifts, with the younger people making up the difference,’ Thorgrímur Kjartansson said.

Faxi RE is now alongside at Vopnafjördur with 500 tonnes of mackerel, following a similar landing by Lundey which is now on fishing grounds south-east of Iceland along with Ingunn AK.