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Living with a short quota

‘We’re in a fixed routine. We’re west of Iceland looking for redfish, silver smelt and Greenland halibut, and we’re half-way into the trip now. We didn’t do badly on silver smelt in the first week, but the fishing slowed down after that and there’s not a lot to be had now,’ said HB Grandi freezer trawler Höfrungur III’s skipper Thórdur Magnússon, commenting that most trawlermen agree that September is always one of the poorest months for fishing.

‘Fishing tends to be slow in September compared to the rest of the year. I have no idea why this is, but I suspect it could be due to the shortening days. Whether or not this is right, I don’t know. But it’s a theory that’s no worse any other.’

He said that not long ago, HB Grandi’s trawlers could fish almost as much as they wished on redfish.

‘But now the quota has been cut back that much that we have to be careful. It looks like these short quotas are here to stay and we’ll just have to live with them.’

Over the winter months Höfrungur III’s effort goes into fishing for Greenland halibut. Thórdur Magnússon said that as this is fishing at 400 fathoms and deeper, there is little by the way of by-catch. The Greenland halibut keep to the thermoclines and if they tow into shallower water, there is less fish to be caught.

‘As we spend a lot of the winter chasing Greenland halibut, it’s not all that handy to try fishing on other species, such as saithe, which we have also fished on over the summer on the Hali grounds.’

But what about species such as cod?

‘Most of our cod is taken as a by-catch with other species. It’s easy enough to find cod as it’s been protected for so long, but the days when you could seek out cod to bring up the catch value are long gone. In the summer on shallow grounds, we fish for haddock,’ Thórdur Magnússon said and commented that although the cuts in quotas mirror the state of some fish stocks, the same can not be said of whale stocks.

‘There are whales everywhere all around us, fin whales, sperm whales and plenty of smaller whales. These animals are in direct competition with us for fish, and I certainly hope that we can continue to catch whales in sensible amounts in the future,’ Thórdur Magnússon said.