This weekend the Síldarvinnslan factory at Neskaupstaður in eastern Iceland began processing capelin for the first time in three years, working with raw material landed by Norwegian pelagic vessels.
The first landing was 310 tonnes landed by Fiskebas, followed by Slaaterøy with 100 tonnes and Sjøbris with 360 tonnes.
While the Norwegian fleet is able to catch its quotas in Icelandic waters during the early part of the season, the Icelandic fleet is staying away from the capelin fishery. The relatively small quota for this season means that the decision has been taken to hold back and keep fishing opportunities for later in the season when capelin roe is at the right stage of maturity for the high-value Japanese market.
According to production manager Jón Gunnar Sigurjónsson, production has started well.
‘It’s got off to a good start, and it’s great to be processing capelin again,’ he said.
‘This is fresh, good-quality fish, but not very large and the roe content isn’t enough for the Japanese market. We have three inspectors from Japan here who are keeping a close eye on things. There’s always a buzz that’s part of the capelin season, and it’s good to see that excitement again.’
Norwegian pelagic vessel Fiskebas was the first to land capelin in Neskaupstaður. Image: Síldarvinnslan/Smári Geirsson