Blue whiting as by-catch only this year
Due to some dramatic reductions in this year’s blue whiting quota across the North Atlantic, HB Grandi’s pelagic vessels will not be carrying out an directed fishing on blue whiting. The company has a quota for this year of only 590 tonnes, which it is hoped will be enough to cover by-catches of blue whiting taken while fishing on mackerel and Atlanto-Scandian herring this summer.
In previous years HB Grandi’s vessels have been able to go straight to blue whiting at the end of the capelin season and last year took 18,200 tonnes. Now things have changed and the fleet has no work ahead of it until the herring season begins. This will in all likelihood not be until the beginning of June, and the fleet will by then have been tied up since the last capelin trips were landed on the 11th of March.
According to Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson, the head of HB Grandi’s pelagic division, quotas for blue whiting have been steadily reduced since the peak 72,000 tonne season the company had in 2005. Not only blue whiting, but also herring has been reduced this year. Last year the fleet took 28,600 tonnes of Atlanto-Scandian herring, as well as 15,000 tonnes of mackerel. This year’s Atlanto-Scandian herring quota is 20,760 tonnes and the mackerel fishery is expected to be much the same as last year, in spite of an increase in the overall quota as virtually all of the additional 35,000 tonne quota has been allocated to freezer vessels.
Ingunn AK is now in port at Akranes and Lundey NS is in Vopnafjördur. Faxi RE is having its refrigeration system replaced, with the slush ice system that had been on board removed and a new RSW system fitted instead. This is expected to provide more even and better cooling of the catch, an the refit is due to be complete before the start of the herring and mackerel fishing in the summer.