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Groundfish fleet's turn for fleet renewal

After years of concern over the increasing age of Iceland's fishing vessels, fleet renewal is now in full swing. The pelagic fleet has been through this and now it's the groundfish fleet's turn.

Fishing companies Ísfélagið, Síldarvinnslan and HB Grandi have all taken delivery of new pelagic vessels in the last couple of years, and now a series of new demersal vessels is about to be delivered, starting at the end of this year.

Samherji, FISK Seafood, HB Grandi, Rammi, Gunnvör and VSV, plus Samherji's subsidiaries in other countries, are all investing in new groundfish trawlers under construction at yards in Turkey, Norway and China.

Three newbuilds hit the water recently, with Rammi's new Sólberg launched at the Tersan yard, due to replace the 43-year-old Mánaberg and the 36-year-old Sigurbjörg. Samherji's new Björgúlfur was launched at the Cemre yard and HB Grandi's Akurey slid into the water at Celiktrans last week. Some of the new designs have a distinctive X-bow configuration, something that has been a subject for much speculation among the fishing community.

The wave of newbuilds for the Icelandic fleet is set to replace a great deal of tonnage that dates back to the 1970s and 80s, bringing in much-needed opportunities to employ more energy-efficient technologies, while also ushering in a new generation of on-board handling technology, including the ice-less storage system developed by Skaginn and 3X that is to be fitted on board the three HB Grandi newbuilds, Engey, Viðey and Akurey.

The first of the new vessels are being fitted out alongside at the Cemre yard in Turkey, built to a Nautic design, and HB Grandi's Engey is expected to be the first of the new generation of groundfish trawlers to arrive in Iceland, due to be delivered at the end of this year.

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