Bergur-Huginn trawler Vestmannaey docked last week after its 44th trip so far this year with a full fishroom, containing 70 tonnes of haddock and cod. This was the trip that took the trawler’s overall catch value through the ISK10 billion (€79.85 million) barrier.
Vestmannaey and sister vessel Bergey are operated by Bergur-Huginn, which is owned by Síldarvinnslan. In its eleven-year career, Vestmannaey has landed 39,440 tonnes and Birgir Thór Sverrisson has been skipper since the trawler was delivered – after having previously skippered the previous trawler of the same name.
He commented that through the years there has been a strong emphasis on using quotas as effectively as possible , as well as obtaining the best possible prices for their fish during those eleven years.
‘The boat has preformed fantastically well, and there’s a hard-working crew on board who work well together. You could hardly imagine a better crew,’ he said, adding that to begin with fish prices were sometimes high while quotas were tight, but after Síldarvinnslan came in as the owner, more quota has been made available and a strong showing of fish has also been beneficial.
‘We haven’t pushed all that hard, but the fact of it is that we have landed fish worth twenty times what the boat cost eleven years ago. That’s pretty good. The first few years we were landing catches worth ISK750-800 million (€6 million) each year, although one year we hit ISK 1200 million (€9.6 milllion),’ he said.
Bergur-Huginn also operates sister vessel Bergey and catch rates have been similar for the two trawlers. ‘Vestmannaey started fishing in April 2007 and Bergey didn’t start until August, so I expect they’ll break the ISK 10 billion barrier later in the year,’ Birgir Thór Sverrisson said.
Vestmannaey and Bergey have been fishing for haddock recently off the south-east of Iceland. There’s nothing unusual about slow fishing through June, but fishing has taken off heavily in the last few weeks as the fish start to feed on herring spawn.