The course of the Fisheries as per week 42/2013

Published: by Jarle A. Hansen

Foreign vessels best on mackerel - being caught in Shetland waters. Still good sized Atlanto Scandic herring in the Norwegian Sea. Further south herring is observed in Skagerrak. For the horse mackerel the result has been bad in spite of the full moon.

Mackerel
Following a record-breaking week no. 41, it was a more moderate fishing last week when 28.500 MT were registered. Of this quantity as much as 22.200 MT were caught by foreign vessels.
The reason behind this modest volume from Norwegian vessels is threefold.  Firstly there are just a few vessels still having quota left, and as previously seen, the mackerel has been wide spread. In addition there have been strong winds at the fields.
The catching has taken place close to the Shetlands. It is a relatively new experience seen over the last couple of years that the mackerel is gathering in this area. The best concentration of fish is within the 12 miles' zone where Norwegian vessels are not admitted.
As we have seen throughout this autumn season, the mackerel is fairly small with an average of 359 g. At the lowest the average was just 255 g - in the upper end; 420 g. The prices are still fairly high, the size taken into consideration. The average was NOK 9,60 reaching NOK 12,15 at the best. This is as well the best price ever noted this season.
Of the Norwegian quota, incl. the flex quota, some 6.500 MT are left. At the moment 15 vessels are in the neighbourhood of Shetland awaiting the weather to improve, and hopefully also better admittance to the mackerel. It is expected that foreign vessels are delivering fish in Norway during the forthcoming week.

Atlanto Scandic herring
When it comes to Atlanto Scandic herring the best week this season was in fact last week. 25.000 MT were taken in the Norwegian Sea. Along the coast from Møre to Vesterålen, some 540 MT were caught by smaller coastal vessels. From the Norwegian Sea, some 210-230 n. miles northwest of Møre, 38 vessels have registered their catches. This is herring operating from the Faroese zone and into the Loop Sea, having a steady course heading north-eastwards.
As mention this is good sized herring with an average of 376 g. This herring is well fitted to be frozen whole for the Eastern European markets. The prices at the auction has been from NOK 5,42 - NOK 5,96, with an average of NOK 5,70.
In the forthcoming week it is expected high activity. Several vessels having been chasing the horse mackerel in the North Sea, are heading for the herring instead. By experience we know that the herring in this area is somewhat  unpredictable, disappearing in periods.  Hopefully the vessels are able to track the herring, enabling them to have a more even catching.
Along the coast the herring is as normal, smaller.  The size in these coastal waters are mainly sized between 220 -250 g. The exception is at Moskenes where the herring is 320 g. The vessels chasing herring along the coast report just modest catches. Hopefully this may improve later in season.

North Sea herring
For the North Sea herring an improvement was registered last week reaching 4.300 MT. The reason is that "Havdrøn" chasing the horse mackerel, found herring in Skagerrak on Tuesday. Several vessels followed and the quota allocated to the purse seiners in this area was filled.
The herring in Skagerrak has varied in size. The catching has been in a limited area and sizes have been observed from 120 - 200 g. The smallest fish is not fit for consumption purposes and is mainly sold for reduction.
The remaining part, just 1.800 MT are caught in well-known areas in the North Sea, - mainly at Fladen in the EU zone. This herring is better sized; 200-225 g and sold to Norwegian buyers at from  the minimum price of NOK 3,70 to NOK 4,30.

Horse mackerel
Several vessels hoped for the full moon being a good "catching window" for the horse mackerel. Close to 30 vessels were chasing this unpredictable fish during the last half of the week  - without success. During the weekend there were strong winds as well and vessels chose to head north for the herring. But some stayed behind  hoping for better times.

Coastal sprat
Still just modest catches of coastal sprat from the fjords, - just some 50 MT were registered. At the positive side it was noted that some sprat taken in Eastern Norway were at size 38 pcs/kg.
From the Sognefjord some 22 MT were reported. The inner part of the fjord was opened for catching on Saturday.

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