There’s plenty of activity at Hampiðjan’s Neskaupstaður net loft at the moment, and according to manager Jón Einar Marteinsson, it’s a long time since there has been quite so much pressure on the staff there.
‘It’s because of this huge capelin season. Nobody expected such a large capelin quota and as soon as it was announced, the pressure was on,’ he said.
‘Then fishing began earlier than anyone had expected and of course we had to provide the fleet with the services they require. Then the pelagic fleet started to switch from trawl to shallow purse seine gear, and their gear needs to be ready. That’s what we’re working on at full speed now.’
He commented that with more hands needed on deck, they were able to call in assistance, including from fishing company Síldarvinnslan.
‘We have four of the crew of Polar Ammassak working here, and four from Bergur-Huginn who have come from the Westman Islands. Plus we have staff coming from Hampiðjan in Reykjavík today and they’ll be here for the rest of the week. Work continues into the evening every day, and with these extra hands, we’re able to cope. It’s a pleasure to see how everyone pitches in when there’s some pressure to finish jobs that can’t wait.’
One of the group from the Westman Islands is master netmaker Guðni Hjörleifsson, who has worked for fishing company Bergur-Huginn for the last thirty years, and he said that it hadn’t been a problem to respond at short notice to go and work in another part of the country.
‘The call came at three on Friday, and the four of us were on the ferry at six, and from the Land Isles ferry terminal we drove out to the east and were ready to start work on Saturday morning,’ he said.
He and three of the crew of trawler Vestmannaey, currently undergoing repairs following a fire on board, made the trip to Neskaupstaður.
‘I haven’t worked with purse seine gear for almost forty years, but it all comes back unbelievably quickly. It’s fantastic to come to this new net loft here in Neskaupstaður. The facilities are excellent, and the best I’ve ever seen. And it’s good to be able to lend a hand when there’s a lot to be done. I don’t know how long we’ll be here – as long as we’re needed,’ Guðni Hjörleifsson said.