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Tough prospects for freezing at sea

‘It has been a reasonable trip for us. We started by trying for some haddock off the east coast, but as usual, the cod kept getting in our way. Now we are fishing off the south-west where the golden redfish season is about to start. There is less fishing on saithe than we would have liked to see, but that’s the way saithe are. They show up when they feel like it,’ said Kristinn Gestsson, skipper of HB Grandi’s factory trawler Therney RE.

Therney has now been at sea for two weeks and is expected to land around the middle of next month. Kristinn Gestsson said that there has been a good amount of haddock off the east of Iceland, along with catches of cod and silver smelt.

‘The capelin had passed us in the east coast and over the daylight hours it’s possible to do well enough on haddock, but there is a lot more cod in the catch during the night. So we shifted here to the west and are fishing off the Reykjanes peninsula. The golden redfish season normally starts at the end of February or early March, and I can’t complain over catch rates.’

As a skipper and former crewman, Kristin Gestsson remembers how things used to be and said that trawler fishing is now a shadow of what it once was.

‘I could hardly believe it when we were fishing off the east and there were only two trawlers fishing over that whole region from the south-east, all the way along the north coast to Hornstrandir. Admittedly there’s a number of trawlers fishing in the Barents Sea at the moment, plus five or six on the Hali grounds. But it’s unbelievable. The trawler fleet has been drastically cut back, as well as which the trawlers are so much older and I can’t see that with the noises coming from government that there will be any opportunities to renew vessels. It looks very clear that freezing at sea is going to have to come to an end. The tax regime seeks to increase taxes on fresher vessels and production ashore by 38% while there is a 55% increase on freezer vessels. This is definitely going to make running freezer trawlers unviable,’ Kristinn Gestsson said.