Major increase in production for human consumption
So far this season around 10,000 tonnes of mackerel and herring products have been frozen at HB Grandi’s pelagic factory in Vopnafjördur, or approximately 3000 tonnes more than at the same time last year. This increase is particularly remarkable in that landings have been lower this year than last summer, mainly because Faxi RE was not able to start fishing until the early part of this month while undergoing a refit, while Ingunn AK and Lundey NS have been active in the fishery since June.
According to Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson, in charge of HB Grandi’s pelagic department, the company has a good quota position. Around 8000 tonnes of herring and 9000 tonnes of mackerel have been caught so far, and the company has a 20,800 tonne quota for Atlanto-Scandian herring and a 15,500 tonne mackerel quota. Altogether, HB Grandi’s vessels have 19,000 tonnes of these 36.300 tonne quotas left to be caught.
Fishing and production have been going well, with the emphasis placed on mackerel. The bulk of recent catches have been mackerel and this has all been processed for human consumption. Most of the mackerel is headed and eviscerated at the Vopnafjördur factory for freezing, while the largest grades of mackerel have been wholefrozen in the new blast freezer that was installed before the beginning of the season. There has been ongoing production at the Vopnafjördur plant since Faxi was able to join the fishing and the only breaks in production are to clean the equipment.
According to Magnús Róbertsson at the Vopnafjördur factory, production has gone extremely well and he expects that if catch rates remain steady, the season could extend into October. Production capacity is 250 tonnes per 24 hours when producing the kind of mackerel as raw material that the factory has been receiving so far, and the blast freezer has made a real difference in allowing the most to be made of the larger mackerel grades.
The HB Grandi fleet is now fishing approximately 120 to 150 nautical miles from Vopnafjördur, with Faxi on the Thors Bank last night, Lundey finishing discharging yesterday and Ingunn next in line to land its catch. Those vessels that have been fishing on herring are working further north, with herring fishing fairly close to Vopnafjördur at present.