Fishermen free trapped whale –

Fishermen free trapped whale Published:  22 November, 2007

A crew member captured this photo on his mobile phone

JAPANESE fleets may have resumed whale hunting, but trawlermen catching fish for British fish and chip shops have been busy saving a 40ft whale after it became trapped in their nets.

The Norwegian trawler Baatsfjord was fishing off the west coast of Greenland when the 20 tonne whale was caught in the net. The trawler’s owners are members of the Frozen at Sea Fillets Association (FASFA), which keeps 80% of the country’s fish and chip shops supplied with the nation’s favourite fish – cod and haddock.

Egil Skarbrvik, skipper of FASFA sister Norwegian ship, Ramoen, has been a trawler fisherman for more than 20 years but has never heard of a whale being caught by a trawler before.

He said: “The whale must have been feeding on the catch when the trawler was hauling its nets from the seabed. It was total chaos when the whale came behind the stern of the trawler. It was full of life and very difficult to handle tangled in the nets, so the crew had to tow the whale for a while, until it calmed.

“Then they pulled the net and whale onto the trawler’s ramp and managed to cut up the net and set it free. It looks like the whale managed the operation well and gave the crew two big blows as a thanks before heading for deeper water again. The crew were so pleased they called the whale Free Willie.

“When I was operating in the same waters earlier this year there was always a whale which followed the vessel when we were hauling the trawl onboard. It looked like it was learning to feed on fish coming from the trawl, which is actually very strange.”

FASFA says its members act responsibly and consider scientific advice when agreeing fishing quotas to ensure the long term future of stocks. Part of their ethos includes the protection of endangered ocean species like the whale. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.