VSV’s pelagic vessel Gullberg is alongside in the Westman Islands to discharge 1100 tonnes of mackerel, most of which was caught off the south coast. Skipper Jón Atli Gunnarsson said that it was great news that the last 200 tonnes of the trip were caught just south of the islands.
‘We were called in to come and land the 900 tonnes we had on board, but thought we’d try our luck on the way home on the shallow banks off the islands, and we filled up,’ he said.
‘This was fine quality mackerel, 520-530 grammes, on familiar grounds where we used to fish mackerel a decade or so ago.’
He added that there is mackerel to be found along the whole south coast, but mixed with herring on shallow grounds. Finding clean mackerel means going to deeper water.
‘The Icelandic herring stock is now pretty strong and so we get some herring with the mackerel. We try to avoid herring, but of we’re going to fish mackerel in our own waters, then we have to expect some by-catch. This calls for a herring quota,’ he said.
According to Sindri Viðarsson who heads Vinnslustöðin’s pelagic division, the opening of this mackerel season has been unlike last year’s, now that there are reports of mackerel on the surface around the Westman Islands.
‘Last year we spent most of the season fishing mackerel in international waters, and now the fleet is fishing inside out EEZ. We’ve just finished discharging the catch from Sighvatur Bjarnason, Gullberg is alongside, and Ísleifur and Huginn are off the east. Our vessels started fishing for mackerel on the third of July and have been from just south of the islands all the way to the Papagrunn. We’ve received around 4000 tonnes for production,’ he said, and added that the combined quota for Vinnslustöðin and Huginn is around 19,000 tonnes.
He commented that many vessels are fishing close to the line between the Icelandic and Faroese EEZs, with a lotof attention on the Faroese fleet’s activity. If they start working closer to the line, that would indicate more mackerel shoals heading into Icelandic waters.