First mackerel catches delivered for consumption

First mackerel catches delivered for consumption
First vessel of the season (English version)

On Tuesday, "Libas" delivered 190 tonnes of mackerel for consumption. - You have to ask the skipper what we paid, says a secretive general manager at Olav E Fiskerstrand.


- Team Olav is very pleased to get mackerel to the dock, says Eldar Overå, general manager of Olav E Fiskerstrand AS.

Admittedly, the pace is not yet the greatest, but all fleet groups are now represented on the registration list for Norway's Herring Sales Team, and mackerel is delivered both for grinding and for consumption.

After the first mackerel catches of the year have been sold for grinding at a record high NOK 10.40 per kilo, there has been great price tension. The question was how far can the industry go to secure raw material for consumption?

Now we have the first answer.

First catches for consumption

For a long time, only foreign vessels and the coastal fleet reported mackerel. During the last week, the Norwegian navy has joined the auctions of the Herring Sales Association.

- Mackerel fishing is a bit tougher this year than last year, notes Sigurd Vedøy, consultant in the sales department of Norway's Sildesalgslag.

Last week, "Ingrid Majala" of 62.6 meters and "Grimsholm" of 49.9 meters brought in a total of 135 tonnes of mackerel. The vessels are respectively from Silfaks fishing boat shipping company in Havøysund, and Grimsholm Fiskedrift in Tromsø.

Two new vessels were caught on Sunday 21 August. The 38.55 meter long "Sulebas" from Lending Rederi AS in Solund reported 120 tonnes, while the 86.1 meter long "Libas" from Liegruppen Fiskeri AS in Øygarden reported three catches totaling 190 tonnes.

- All the mackerel catches from Norwegian vessels have been consumed, says the sales consultant, who is no longer allowed to say anything about the prices.

Not that many vessels looking

It is easy to see that the fishing is poor, compared to last year's catch statistics. At the same time a year ago, Norwegian vessels had catches of several hundred tonnes. The 190 tonnes of mackerel that "Libas" delivered at Fiskarstrand were taken a month after their first registered catch last year, sales consultant Vedøy tells Fiskeribladet.

Only 12 boats from large coast and ring net are on the field at the time of writing. By comparison, there are usually 20 vessels in each auction when the mackerel fishing is really underway.

Despite this, Sildelaget is not worried about the season.

- We do not think that the fishery is poor yet. Most of the vessels have only waited a little, and it seems that more and more are getting started now, says Sigurd Vedøy of Norway's Sildesalgslag.

"Libas" used a trawl

- We had no need to start so early, since we have access to the British zone also, explains skipper Ivan Berntsen on "Libas", and confirms the sales consultant's theory.

Both believe that the mackerel fishing will pick up when more vessels come out looking.

- We know there is a lot of mackerel, the foreigners have had good fishing this summer. When more vessels arrive, we get an overview of the mackerel. At the start of the season, it's a bit random, says Berntsen to Fiskeribladet.

The skipper did not come across any large deposits of mackerel to put his bill around, but still got catches of 55, 50 and 85 tonnes.

- We chose to trawl to collect some mackerel. It is clearly an advantage to be rigged for both trawl and seine, says the skipper to Fiskeribladet.

- Assesses over the course of the season

What was paid for the load that "Libas" delivered at Fiskarstrand, Berntsen does not want to disclose.

- It's a good one. There is nothing to say about the price, it's just about finding mackerel, is the encouragement to his skipper colleagues.

He himself sets course straight out to the area of 63–64 degrees north again, 160 miles north-northwest of Ålesund. "Libas" has a mackerel quota of close to 4,000 tonnes. The skipper is unsure whether fishing will take place until the entire quota is taken.

- The question is how the fishery develops, and whether we go to the British zone later. We are considering beyond the season, but will probably fish continuously, as long as there are good prices for mackerel, says "Libas'" skipper, Ivan Berntsen.

Satisfied with the quality

Eldar Overå, who received the mackerel from "Libas", is, as previously mentioned, happy to finally get fish to the quay. On Sunday, "Ingrid Majala" delivered its catch to the same place, and the company also buys mackerel from the coastal fleet that fishes in the fjords. With a small vacuum pump, they unload efficiently on land also from smaller vessels.

- The quality from the small boats has been very good, with fish of 300 grams, reports Overå.

The mackerel from "Ingrid Majala", which had an average size of 430-440 grams, was "fantastic".

- A Japanese customer who was here cutting said it was top quality, says the happy buyer.

- When the mackerel is caught with a trawl, the quality is "a little different", but that is expected at this time, says Overå further about the catch for "Libas".

- The fish is "skinny", there is a lot of feed in the early in the season, says Overå, who reports a fat percentage of 20 percent.

The fish buyer is not as happy to report on the price as the quality.

- You have to ask the captain about that, says Overå to Fiskeribladet.

He nevertheless reveals a few more details.

- An ok start

- When they have paid very high prices for flour and oil, then we have to exceed that price. But we have customers at the other end, there is a market and price level there and, says Overå.

- As a rule, those interested in good quality are the ones who buy it.

Fiskeribladet asks again about the price paid for the catch to "Libas".

- Over NOK 15, is all he wants to say.

Last year they paid "much more".

Overå believes that the first catches of the year for consumption have gone for lower prices, since the quantities are relatively small and it is still early in the season. Furthermore, he predicts that prices will be "stable, but high".

- So far an it is an ok start, but we hope that more fish will come to the dock relatively quickly, because that is what we like, summarizes Eldar Overå, general manager at Olav E Fiskerstrand AS, who has secured several of the year's first mackerel catches for consumption