The course of fisheries as per week 1/2018

Published: by Jarle A. Hansen

A quiet start for Atlanto Scandic herring, some mackerel in western waters and a promising start for blue whiting near the Faroe isles.

Atlanto Scandic herring
A quiet start with just 8.700 MT registered. Only a few vessels have started fishing, as totally 30 vessels have been in operation.
As it was during last autumn, the activities are mainly in two areas. One, in the Norwegian Sea, more precisely as far west as the Loop Sea for better sized herring. Here eight vessels have caught 5.300 MT some 250 n.m. northwest of Lofoten. The average size of this herring; 340-361 g.
The smaller vessels have been in Kvænangen catching close to 3.100 MT. As previously, this is smaller herring with a size in the range from 205 -240 g.
From an area close to Hitra Island at the coast of Trøndelag, there were two catches totaling 300 MT. – Average weight: 240 g.
The vessels operating in the Norwegian Sea have on their way looked for herring in the Norwegian zone. The observations were modest, and not until reaching the Loop Sea further west where also operations were carried out last autumn, more herring was observed. As being normal by full moon, the herring stayed deep and was in periods hard to reach by purse. The weather has also been a challenge. According to the skippers, the herring seems not in hurry to move on for spawning.
In Kvænangen the herring has been in the same area with just small daily variations. What is positive, is that the magnitude of grade 5 herring now is reduced.
The market for bigger herring to be fileted, is good, subject to an acceptable fat content. Several vessels are now ready for better sized herring, but as the distance to the field is long, the smaller vessels, especially, are waiting for the herring to approach the coast. Hopefully as the new moon will be there in a week or so, this may influence the herring to move closer to coast.
In Kvænangen the tension is linked to how long the herring will stay before migrating southwards to spawn.

The catching for mackerel has started in the EU zone for a great number of vessels. Eight catches are reported to be landed in Norway, totaling 6.900 MT. This is shared on three Norwegian vessels, two Scottish, two Irish and one Danish.
All catches were taken west-northwest of the Orkneys, and the fishermen report a lot of mackerel to be in the area. - Sometimes the mackerel is concentrated from bottom to surface, making it a challenge to trawl.
The average weight is from 360 -395 g. This is the same size as we saw last autumn.
The market is fairly good for mackerel. We expect more foreign landings in the period ahead of us.

Horse mackerel
The horse mackerel is normally gathering under the full moon. Several smaller vessels have therefore been in operation lately. In the fjords of Rogaland/Hordaland counties, 70 MT are registered from three vessels, and from Romsdal, one vessel has taken 20 MT.
The catches have contained good sized horse mackerel in the range from 450 -500 g in the southern part, and as much 611 g. further north.
Also, when it comes to horse mackerel, the market is good.

Sprat/ocean sprat
“Sjæringen Sr.” was the first vessels this year with two catches with close to 90 MT of sprat caught off the towns of Tønsberg and Sandefjord at the south coast. Both catches were delivered to a Swedish buyer in Strømstad.
“Talbor”, heading for a remaining quota (258 MT) of ocean sprat, has not got anything so far. After strong winds the very first day, the vessel was chasing the sprat in the same area as was the best prior to Christmas. To be able to deliver for consumption purposes, the size is of great importance.

Blue whiting
One vessel; “Åkerøy” set sail for the blue whiting in Faroese waters. Having arrived just before the weekend, she has not reported anything yet.
Faroese vessels, starting their catching just after the turn of the year, reported catches with as much as 2.600 MT, which is remarkably good.
If this is what we can expect this season, probably more vessels will join during the first month of 2018.

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