25,000 tonne summer pelagic season
HB Grandi’s pelagic fleet formally ended its mackerel and Atlanto-Scandian herring season on the 23rd of September when Lundey NS landed the last catch of the season at Vopnafjördur. 12,840 tonnes of Atlanto-Scandian herring and 12,015 tonnes of mackerel were landed this summer.
This season was different to previous seasons in that the emphasis was strongly on mackerel in the early part of the season. Efforts were made as far as possible to catch as little herring as possible with mackerel catches, and vice versa. Keeping the two separate makes a significant difference to production ashore.
The season started with 360 tonnes landed by Faxi RE at Vopnafjördur on the 15th of July, which was mostly mackerel but included 50 tonnes of herring. Alongside Faxi, Ingunn AK started fishing as the season opened, and Lundey began fishing later due to being in refit during which anti-roll tanks were fitted to the ship.
Ingunn’s skipper Gudlaugur Jónsson is one of Iceland’s most experienced pelagic fishermen and he said that while the fishing had been excellent, the season had been different in some ways to what they are used to seeing.
‘To start with, the weather was worse than usual. It was changeable and although there were no outright storms, it was constantly rough. As far as the mackerel go, these were more work to catch than usual and the sea surface temperatures were around a degree lower than in previous years. The mackerel were small at the start of the season and more dispersed, so we had to tow for longer and go further to get the same catches as in previous seasons,’ he said and commented that he does not doubt that it was the right decision to try and keep mackerel and herring as separate as possible.
‘It makes a huge difference for the processing factory ashore, and yields are far better when we land clean catches. Smaller mackerel are roughly the same size as herring, which causes problems for grading mixed fish at the start of the season. Further into the season this is no longer a problem as the mackerel we were getting was larger and therefore easier to grade out of the herring,’ Gudlaugur Jónsson said.