Crews wait for corona screening results
Pelagic vessels alongside in Norðfjörður as the crews’ resulted are awaited. Image: Síldarvinnslan/Smári Geirsson

Crews wait for corona screening results

Síldarvinnslan’s pelagic vessels are alongside at Norðfjörður in eastern Iceland and are staying there while the crews wait for the results of their Covid-19 screening tests.

The three pelagic vessels expect to head for blue whiting fishing grounds in the grey zone south of the Faroe Islands as soon as the test results have been returned.

The crews of Börkur and Beitir underwent their tests in eastern Iceland on Saturday and Bjarni Ólafsson’s crew have also been tested. Results are expected tonight or tomorrow.

Börkur’s skipper Hjörvar Hjálmarsson commented that there will be no obstacles to them sailing.

‘This is something we have never experienced before and for fishing in distant waters, it’s vital that we sail with a ship free of infection,’ he said.

‘Last year we started fishing in the grey zone on the 6th of April and normally fishing starts there between the 5th and the 12th of April. We don’t have any reports of fishing there at the moment. It’s nothing unusual to start the fishery on the fish that stays in that area, and then the migrating fish make their way into the region and there can often be some good fishing there.’

Síldarvinnslan CEO Gunnthór Ingvason had nothing but praise for the speed at which deCode Genetics and the Health Institution of East Iceland responded to the company’s request for the crews to be tested before sailing.

‘Twenty crewmen from our pelagic vessels went to them for screening on Saturday. They responded very quickly to our request and set up the tests at short notice. So we are highly grateful to deCode Genetics and the Health Institution,’ he said.

‘All the same, despite being screened, it’s important the crews respect rules of behaviour on board, maintaining a distance, taking care to wash hands and disinfect, and other requirements. Even though screening finds that people aren’t infected, there is still the possibility that they could carry the virus with them, so all of the hygiene requirements must be followed to the letter.’

He commented that it is encouraging to see how the company’s staff have made efforts to adapt to the requirements concerning Covid-19.

‘There are challenges, some restrictions and changes. I’m extremely grateful for the co-operation that our staff have demonstrated in this difficult time, during which we are determined to make every effort to avoid the virus,’ Gunnthór Ingvason said.