Mackerel season in full swing
The mackerel season takes place at the height of summer, before the fleet switches its attention to herring in the early autumn. At present factories in the Westmann Islands, Vopnafjörður and several east coast ports are seeing regular landings of mackerel for processing, and the shore-based processing industry has rapidly moved on from the situation some years ago when mackerel were processed for fishmeal as the industry got to grips with a new fishery. Today mackerel are frozen, either at sea or ashore, in a process that ensures freshness and top quality for markets around the world.
Iceland has seen some significant investment in its pelagic sector, with some older, less efficient tonnage leaving the fleet, replaced by some of the most efficient pelagic vessels fishing today. Síldarvinnslan bought the Malene S from Norway, which now operates as Börkur, while Ísfélagið acquired its sister vessel while it was still under construction for Norwegian owners, renaming it Sigurður. Both were built at the Celiktrans yard in Turkey, and HB Grandi also went to the same builder for its two new pelagic vessels Víkingur and Venus. Since then, Síldarvinnslan has also acquired Henning Kjeldsen's Gitte Henning, built in Klaipeda in 2014. The company's 1997-built Beitir went to Denmark as part of the deal, pending the delivery of an even more impressive replacement Gitte Henning.
There has also been plenty of shoreside development. Factories in Iceland and the Faroe Islands have been built to handle herring, blue whiting and mackerel in the last few years. This includes a substantial investment by HB Grandi in the east coast fishing port of Vopnafjörður that has been revitalised with the construction of one of the most sophisticated pelagic processing plants in northern Europe, and which is currently working at full speed with the mackerel season at its height.
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