A fishery for sea cucumbers has developed in Iceland in recent years, and the technology has developed alongside it to include lightweight dredges mounted with sensors.
Aurora Seafood is one of the group of companies fishing for sea cucumbers in Icelandic waters, with the fishery divided into regions, each with its own quota.
‘There are nine boats with licences, and we run one of them, 26m Klettur, which fishes all of these areas across the year,’ said Aurora Seafood’s Davið Freyr Jónsson. Klettur works with a pair of dredges towed side by side, fishing in depths mostly around 25 metres and as far down as 50 metres, all in coastal waters and with short trips of only 14 hours at sea as the catch is landed daily.
Initially fishing for sea cucumbers was done with heavy dredges with skids, and the gear developed with the growing fishery as the gear became progressively lighter and more flexible, becoming steadily lighter to cause minimum seabed disturbance.
‘We developed dredges with arms that rise and fall as they cover the sea bed, and a chain mat which is what catches the sea cucumbers,’ said Klettur’s skipper Bergur Garðarsson.
Klettur is the only one of these boats to use sensors on the dredges, with Marport sensors that show the distance between the two dredges as well as the angle and quality of ground contact.
Aurora Seafood is now in the unique position of having been award a substantial grant from the European Union’s H2020 fund towards development of both fishing gear and the processing side of the sea cucumber business, with work on this already on progress with Valka.
‘We’ve been awarded a grant to do some research on this, so we’ll be going to the flume tank in Canada with dredges to see how we can develop the gear further,’ Bergur Garðarsson said, adding that with relatively little investment having gone into this in the past, there is a real possibility that Iceland could become an exporter of both catching and processing technology for sea cucumbers.
For the full story on the sea cucumber fishery, check out the July edition of Hook and Net