Smaller pelagic landings, but more for human consumption
Fishing on mackerel and Atlanto-Scandian herring has been successful so far this year and so far 11,000 tonnes of mackerel and herring have been landed in Vopnafjördur. This represents a reduction of around 5000 tonnes compared to the same point a year ago, but there has been a significant increase in production for human consumption. Around 6000 tonnes of products have been frozen, a 600 tonne increase compared to last year.
According to Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson, head of HB Grandi's pelagic division, the more than a hundred staff currently working at the company's pelagic factory in Vopnafjördur have been kept busy.
'Ingunn AK and Lundey NS have done well so far, but it makes a difference that Faxi RE is still at the quayside undergoing a refit and has not yet started fishing this summer although we expect Faxi to sail in the next few days. The season also started ten days later than last year,' he said and commented that as we spoke Ingunn was landing 400 tonnes of herring and mackerel, while Lundey was steaming home from fishing grounds with 450 tonnes of mainly mackerel.
Norwegian capelin fishing gaining strength
It has not escaped notice that at the same time as the Icelandic has not been able to fish capelin, Norwegian vessels have been fishing well on the Icelandic capelin stock just outside the 200 mile limit north of the Icelandic western fjords. According to the Ministry of Fisheries, the Icelandic fleet is not permitted to start fishing capelin until the 1st of October.
Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson said that it is difficult to understand the reasoning behind the Minister's decision on this and said that he is not certain that much of the Icelandic fleet would be on capelin now if the fishery had not been closed to them.
'The pelagic fleet is now concentrating on herring and mackerel and possibly two or three pelagic vessels would be on capelin now if the fishery hadn't been closed,' he said. But he told us that 35 Norwegian vessels have declared catches of around 44,000 tonnes, according to figures from Norwegian sales organisation Norges Sildesalgslag. He said that as well as the Norwegians, several Danish and one Greenlandic vessel are also on capelin, and the Norwegian authorities have licensed their fleet to take 102,636 tonnes of capelin from the Icelandic stock this year. Of this, Norwegian vessels can take 66,525 tonnes in Greenlandic waters or the Jan Mayen zone.