‘The hard part is keeping the doors down’
HB Grandi’s pelagic vessels Ingunn AK and Lundey NS are now alongside in Vopnafjördur with 700 tonnes between them that was caught south-east of Iceland over the weekend. Their catch includes 600 tonnes of mackerel and this is the first mackerel of the season to be landed in Vopnafjördur.
‘We sailed on Saturday and were fishing mostly in the southern part of the Rose Garden and a bit to the west of it. There’s mackerel over a wide area that seems to be moving fast to the west. The Westmann Islands boats were fishing off the Öræfa Banks and with a pair team getting a lot of mackerel there further south,’ said Lundey’s skipper Arnthór Hjörleifsson when we spoke to him. He and his crew were waiting for the 250 tonnes of mackerel and 50 tonnes of herring they caught in three tows to be landed while Lundey’s 350 tonnes of mackerel and 50 tonnes of herring were being discharged.
He commented that the factory has been taking its time to land the fish, as it is important to fine-tune the graders to separate mackerel and herring. As we have already reported, HB Grandi’s factory in Vopnafjördur has recently taken delivery of new graders and automatic filleting machines. But it’s not just the discharging that needs patience.
‘We need to work very differently than usual when there is mackerel about. The trawl needs to sit right on the surface, preferably with the headline breaking the surface and the hard part is keeping the doors down,’ he said, commenting that they took one haul of clean mackerel during the last trip, but other hauls were al mixed herring and mackerel.
There are plenty of theories about the interdependence between mackerel and herring, including the theory that the mackerel feed on herring. Arnthór Hjörleifsson said that he does not agree with this and made the point that the Westmann Islands boats, the first ones to try fishing on mackerel at the beginning of June, have found that there is no point towing over the same patch twice for mackerel, as the second tow will be all herring. This indicates that herring follow mackerel, and not the other way around.