Icelandic fishermen report cod galore Published: 03 March, 2008
ICELANDIC fishermen are reporting a glut of cod wherever they fish, especially on the country’s eastern coastline.
In the last week, two trawlers were white fishing on the East Coast, whereas 20 boats had been in the area a week earlier.
The reason is because skippers are now reporting more cod than ever on grounds where haddock had been predominant before. Everyone is trying to avoid catching cod for fear of going over their quota.
Skipper Jóhann Gunnarsson of the trawler Kaldbakur told the newspaper Morgunbladid: “We need a cod-scaring device. My vessel (the Kaldbakur) landed 85 tonnes in Eskifjördur last week and 125 tonnes the week before.”
He added: “The weather has been difficult and that makes a difference. But the problem is that there are cod everywhere. It’s hardly possible to shoot a trawl anywhere without getting cod in it. There were haddock here last week.
He said there were undeniable signs that the haddock fishing had slowed down and a strong migration of cod started coming into the area. Because of this most of the trawlers had abandoned the East Coast fishing area and most of these were now off Reykjanes where they are fishing for saithe.
“Everyone is fleeing the cod and we’ll have to do the same and change our grounds,” Skipper Gunnarsson maintained. “There is more cod than the researchers believe. I do not think that the outlook is as dark as they like to think, although there certainly isn’t as much as there was around 1980. But there’s a difference between 130,000 tonnes now and the 400,000 tonnes we were fishing then.”
Cod fishermen are hoping that Iceland’s Marine Research Institute will believe the evidence of a cod glut and do what they did with capelin last week by allowing some increase in the next cod quota which begins in September.
Fridrik Jón Arngrímsson of the Icelandic Federation of Fishing Vessel Operators said the capelin reprieve had come as a relief to the industry, adding that practically all of the capelin landed for the rest of the season will be frozen for export.
The loss of the capelin fishery would have been a blow for communities in the east of Iceland in particular, as well as for the Westmann Islands. There are three major producers in the east who have plants and vessels that deal mainly with capelin. Markets for capelin products are currently experiencing a shortage and prices are good for frozen capelin and capelin roe. The bulk of capelin roe on the market this year will be from Iceland and this is a market that has become increasingly important. Prices for fish meal and fish oil, as well are also buoyant.
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