Herring season ahead

Brim’s pelagic vessel Venus has been fishing for mackerel in the Herring loophole. Photo: Brim Brim’s pelagic vessel Venus has been fishing for mackerel in the Herring loophole. Photo: Brim.

Iceland’s mackerel season for the year looks to be coming to a close as pelagic vessels are looking for catches in international waters, while the first landings of herring have been made to east coast factories.

Landing 600 tonnes of mackerel to Brim’s factory in Vopnafjörður, skipper Theódór Thórðarson of pelagic vessel Venus said that the mackerel are moving fast, but with no clear pattern to their movements.

“They don’t seem to have decided where they want to go. We’ve seen them shifting quickly eastwards for one or two days, then they turn around and start swimming back west again, or northwards,” he said, commenting that their trip started in bad weather at the northern end of the Herring Loophole, and the mackerel have moved north of the Jan Mayen line.

“There has been good fishing when there weather has been reasonable,” he said, adding that there is clearly a great deal of mackerel there.

The focus is shifting to the herring fishery, and Síldarvinnslan’s pelagic vessel Bjarni Ólafsson made a strong start with 800 tonnes of herring taken in a single tow only a few hours’ steaming time from home.

“We only towed for around an hour,’ said Bjarni Ólafsson’s skipper Gísli Runólfsson.

“There’s a lot of herring here. This tow produced 800 tonnes and I don’t recall seeing so much in one haul after such a short tow. This was our first tow with a new Hampiðjan trawl,” he said.

“It’s all large, good-quality herring and is ideal for production. On top of that, we were fishing only three hours from Norðfjörður, so it could hardly be better. There are also reports of herring to the north, and we can say that these are the traditional autumn herring areas.”

The 800 tonnes caught by Bjarni Ólafsson were landed to Síldarvinnslan’s production plant in Neskaupstaður, followed by another of the company’s pelagic vessels, Börkur, arriving with an additional 1150 tonnes of herring for producton. “There’s a lot to be seen there and these are very strong marks of herring. We were only 10 hours on the fishing grounds,” said Börkur’s skipper Hálfdan Hálfdanarson.

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