While some of the fleet is still at sea and processing is stil in progress, Iceland’s capelin season is coming to an end for this year and for Westman Islands company Vinnslustöðin (VSV), the seas is now over.
‘The last of the capelin roes are in the freezers,’ said VSV managing director Sigurgeir B. Kristgeirsson earlier this week.
‘Once those roes are in storage, our season is over and this one has been special in many respects.’
He commented that this has been a highly successful season, and VSV has frozen around 9000 tonnes of capelin and capelin roe, more than had been expected.
‘To begin with, we prepared for two short bursts of activity, one of freezing capelin, and then roe production,’ he said, adding that initially the company had a quota of 15,000 tonnes, which became 40,000 tonnes by the end of the season.
‘The fact is that the weather was kind to us and fishing went extremely well. Roe production followed right behind capelin freezing so there was uninterrupted production ashore. We worked uniterrupted shifts day and night from 15th February to 21st March. That’s something that hasn’t happened before,’ he said.
‘Our staff did a fantastic job. Pelagic production calls for more manpower than we had expected. So we had to move people from saltfish and temporarily reduce saltfish production. Now that goes back to normal.’
Capelin and capelin products are mainly for Asian markets, especially Japan. Fluctuations in catches and several zero-quota years have had their effects on these markets. Closer to home, the Russian market is no longer accessible.
‘On the other hand, we ship capelin products to Ukraine, despite the hostilities. Ukrainian buyers are looking for small shipments at a time, as they are understandably reluctant to build up large stocks in cold storage,’ Sigurgeir B. Kristgeirsson.
‘It’s astonishing to see how Ukrainian society has kept going, in spite of a major war being in progress and their defending themselves against constant bombing and all kinds of threats from the Russian invaders.’