Pelagic first in Iceland

Pelagic first in Iceland

Icelandic pelagic vessel Börkur has landed purse seine-caught mackerel for the first time, with 630 tonnes of mackerel caught in international waters 280 nautical miles offshore, and close to the Faroese line.

According to operating company Síldarvinnslan, this is a milestone as since mackerel fishing began in Icleandic waters a decade ago, this has all been caught in pelagic trawls.

Börkur’s catch was taken in two shots, of which the first yielded 540 tonnes of mackerel.

Skipper Hálfdan Hálfdanarson said that as far as they are aware, this is the first time that mackerel have been caught in a purse seine in Iceland.

‘In the 1980s there were a few herring boats from Iceland that fished herring in the North Sea and caught some mackerel then, and much later there were unsuccessful attempts to catch mackerel in purse seines in the Faroese EEZ,’ he said.

‘The expectation is that purse seine caught mackerel is a better quality than fish caught in a trawl, so the processing plant in Neskaupstaður is waiting for this,’ he said, and added that mackerel are an elusive fish to catch in a purse seine.

‘We had three empty shots before we saw some fish. Mackerel are such strong swimmers and difficult to handle that everything has to stack up before it works out. This takes practice, like anything else. It get lively when the purse is closed up and they practically stand up with just their tails in the water. There’s plenty of noise, and mackerel are stronger than other pelagic fish.’

Börkur docked in Neskaupstaður late last night.

Síldarvinnslan’s other pelagic vessel, Beitir had already docked with 700 tonnes of herring caught in the Norðurfjörður Deep. According to skipper Tómas Kárason, there is a lot of herring on the fishing grounds.