Fishing 'gold rush' hits Iceland –

Fishing ‘gold rush’ hits Iceland Published:  01 March, 2011

ICELAND’S current capelin season has turned into a fishing version of the old American Gold Rush, according to one of the leading catchers in the business.

HB Grandi, which is a major pelagic fishing company, said there was “a gold rush feel to Akranes and a few other coastal towns”  where capelin roe is being processed.

At the moment HOB Grande has around 80 staff on rolling shifts around the clock at its Karnes factory. As in past years, many of the local sheep farmers are among those who have taken the opportunity to take part in the short season at Karnes.

Capelin roe production began at HB Grandi’s Akranes factory on Thursday last week and has been going well, according to Gunner Hermann, who has been in charge of this side of the company’s shore-based production. He said that fishing had been good and there was no shortage of raw material. But although the roe levels are enough to satisfy even the most demanding markets, there is the problem that the roe is not as fully developed as would be ideal.

Mr Hermann added: “Capelin is very hard to predict and no two seasons are the same. It’s impossible to tell how many days of each season we can take roe. The state of the stock, the migration pattern and the weather all play a part. If we’re lucky, the season could last as much as three weeks. Or a poor season could be just a matter of a few days.”

He said that around 30 of HOB Grandi’s regular staff take part in the roe season, while the other fifty come from all over, including a number of farmers from the western counties of Iceland, either from Borgarfjördur or from further west in Snaefellsnes and the Dales district. He said that these and other people provide a fine workforce, many of whom have taken part in the season at Akranes  for many years.