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Herring moves into international zone

HB Grandi’s pelagic vessels have some 17,000 tonnes of their Atlanto-Scandian herring quota to catch and around 3500 tonnes of their mackerel quota.

According to Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson, head of the company’s pelagic division, it is difficult to predict how far into the autumn the fishing can be sustained, but there are hopes that it will continue at least into October.
Fishing has slowed down recently and he commented that the last week’s catches have been thin and as a result, it has not been possible to maintain full production at the company’s freezing plant at Vopnafjördur. But fishing has been good this summer and the Vopnafjördur factory has processed and frozen roughly equal amounts of herring and mackerel to produce 8000 tonnes of finished products.

It is clear that the herring is now increasingly heading north-east out of Icelandic waters and into the Herring Loophole, with HB Grandi’s pelagic vessels bringing catches from fishing grounds 270 nautical miles ENE of Vopnafjördur. Conditions there have been difficult, with rough weather and much time spent searching for marks of fish in catchable volumes. Mackerel has been taken as a by-catch and this has formed around 20% of landing since the Bank Holiday lay-up in early August.

According to Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson, Lundey NS docked on Sunday to land 500 tonnes of herring and mackerel before sailing again on Monday morning. Faxi RE an Ingunn AK are both at sea and are more than 200 nautical miles N-E of Vopnafjördur. Faxi had 350 tonnes on board and was taking the last haul of the trip on Monday afternoon, and is expected to dock in Vopnafjördur on Tuesday. Ingunn had 300 tonnes on board by late on Monday.

There is a great deal of uncertainty of how things will develop after the mackerel and Atlanto-Scandian herring fisheries are finished. The Marine Research Institute does not consider that the Icelandic spring-spawning herring stock is strong enough to warrant allocating a quota, and this is a fishery that has normally begun in the autumn and continued into the New Year. But there are hopes of a research quota, although no decisions have yet been taken.