A sizable portion of the fish that is found in Britain’s fish and chips dishes comes from filleter-freezer Gadus, one of a number of fishing vessels owned and operated by JFK, a leading Faroese fishing company with an impressive history.
Look up the National Fish & Chip Awards website and you’ll see that one of the proud sponsors of the yearly event is JFK of the Faroe Islands. The long-established fishing company has a strong foothold in the world of fish and chips, renowned for the high quality of the products from freezer trawler Gadus — fillets of cod and haddock frozen at sea.
“The Gadus has a strong brand recognition in the industry and I’m proud to say that sustainability is an integral part of our business model,” said JFK Sales and Operations Director Jógvan Hansen.
The young Mr. Hansen, son of CEO and co-owner Hanus Hansen, has a point that can be readily documented, as both the Faroese saithe fishery that the company participates in and the Barents Sea cod and haddock fisheries have been awarded the Marine Stewardship Council certification of sustainability.
“The MSC Chain of Custody Certificate requires a high standard of traceability and process control,” he said. “It essentially means that any products of Barents Sea groundfish or Faroe Islands saithe that we ship can be proven to originate from those responsibly and sustainably managed fisheries.”
As for product quality, the frozen-at-sea fillets from JFK’s fishing vessels are the freshest available in the market, Mr. Hansen noted. “The reason is quite simple. When the fish arrives on the deck, it’s immediately taken care of — chilled, cleaned, filleted and frozen, all within four hours. You won’t get it any fresher than that, nor tastier.”
JFK’s history goes back a century, to the early days of commercial fishing in the Faroe Islands — indeed its home town of Klaksvík owes much of its development to the success of JFK during the early decades. The company pioneered several distant-water fisheries across the Nordic Seas and today retains a good chunk of catch quota in the Barents Sea and, to a smaller extent, the Flemish Cap off Newfoundland and in Greenland waters. The company also has groundfish licenses in the Faroe exclusive economic zone and holds catch quota in the Faroese pelagic fisheries, which take place in Faroese waters as well as in EU, Norwegian and Icelandic waters.
‘Fantastic people’: With a fleet of 12 modern fishing vessels including two freezer trawlers, one purse-seiner/pelagic trawler with refrigerated seawater tanks, one pelagic factory ship, one longliner equipped with freezing facilities, six fresh fish trawlers and one fresh fish longliner — alongside an onshore fish processing factory that happens to be the largest in the Faroe Islands — JFK is well positioned to deliver a wide range of products, reliably.
“JFK have been involved in many fisheries for many decades and are one of the largest license holders in the Faroe Islands,” Mr. Hansen said. “We are able to keep our vessels as well as the Kósin factory busy throughout the year so we can offer top-quality products in large volumes. Our collaboration with international players in the fast-moving pelagic industry furthermore allows us to participate at the highest level.”
As far as concerns frozen-at-sea cod and other groundfish, the focus is mainly on the UK, whereas fresh and frozen saithe and other groundfish products are mostly aimed at Northern Europe, and salted groundfish products go to the Mediterranean region; pelagic products, meanwhile, are mostly shipped to Central and Eastern Europe as well as to Eurasia.
Over the years, JFK has witnessed and experienced an enormous amount of change. “The fishing vessels used back in the early 1900s were very rudimentary hook-and-line boats with very limited options for effective handling of catch. Contrast that with today’s automated and computerized processes and technologies and it’s a completely different world. And still, we remain in the business of fishing and bringing seafood to the world.”
Mr. Hansen obviously likes his job; he seems to live and breathe it.
“I grew up in this environment,” he said. “This town is very much about fishing and the seafood trade. I went to study abroad and I’ve lived in Britain and elsewhere. Yet I’ve also been out to sea to fish and I learned a lot from that experience. Now I really enjoy being back in Klaksvík, working with fantastic people and reporting to my father. We discuss anything that concerns the business and how to continually develop the organization and take it to next level. It’s great.”