‘This trip has been 24 days so far and everything’s going well. Fishing is good, the fish are fine quality and there’s decent weather. We’re expecting this trip to be 40 days, and that includes ten days spent steaming between here and Reykjavík,’ said Ævar Jóhannsson, skipper of HB Grandi’s factory trawler Örfirisey, as he and his crew are currently fishing in Russian waters.
‘Most of the time we have been off Murmansk, but we have been around searching for fish. The furthest we have been was eastwards not far from Novaya Zemlya. It helps that there are six Icelandic trawlers fishing on these grounds and we help each other out. That’s important when you’re searching for fish over such a wide area,’ he said, adding that there is not a large number of trawlers fishing in the region, just two from the Faroes and several Russian vessels.
The bulk of catches in the Russian zone is cod, and the rules are different from those that apply in Norwegian waters.
‘We have quotas for cod and haddock, and everything else is counted as by-catch. In fact, there’s also a quota for Greenland halibut, but there’s so little of it here that’s not going to touch the quota. If we catch out haddock quota, which is 7-8% of the cod quota, then fishing is stopped, regardless of how much cod is left. The by-catch rules are different and that can be 20% of the total. If we get redfish with the cod, as an example, and it’s more than 20% of the catch, then we have to move to another fishing area. We have a Russian observer on board and he makes sure that everything is done by the rule book. It’s no problem to have him on board, as we have nothing to hide.’
Ævar Jóhannsson said that the cod they have been catching is fine quality fish.
‘If we go into shallower grounds then we get cod that’s more mixed in size, but overall this is all excellent fish,’ he said.