Full Spectrum Fishing: Framherji

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pp 50-51As Framherji’s pelagic vessel Fagraberg continues to deliver thousands of tonnes of fresh catch every year, versatile trawler Akraberg is to be fitted with an ensiling system to ensure full utilization of all catch and processing offals.

If you were to declare any company in the Faroese fishing industry as the one best connected and most diversified, it would likely be Framherji. The Fugla­fjørður-based firm is the sole owner and operator of three fishing vessels — pelagic trawler/purse seiner Fagraberg, freezer trawler Akra­berg, longliner Stapin — as well as holding large stakes in fishing vessel owner and seafood processor Faroe Origin, advanced freezing plant Pelagos, and cold storage facility Bergfrost.

The company is owned jointly by Anfinn Olsen and Elisabeth Eldevig, both of whom work actively as managing partners, with a minority post held by Iceland’s Sam­herji. The remarkable development of Fram­herji has been largely shaped by the owners’ extensive network of contacts at all levels, at home and abroad.

Mr. Olsen, who is currently the chairman of the Faroe Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association (Før­oya Reiðara­felag), pointed out in an earlier interview with the Faroe Business Report that regional collaboration across national boundaries has played a major part in the business development of Framherji, as he stressed the importance of meeting capital requirements and keeping up to date with technological advances.

“The Faroese have always worked with other nations when it comes to fishing and the maritime industry,” he said. “Many of our seafarers have always worked with foreign shipowners. Access to capital is important but it’s not the only thing you’ll be looking for. I can tell from my experience at Fram­herji that working with Sam­herji in particular has significantly increased our business expertise in a number of areas — financially, organizationally, technologically.

“It’s becoming clear that the fishing rights available for a fishing company in one jurisdiction may not alone suffice to support a top-of-the-line, next-generation fishing vessel. Therefore, shipowners in say, Iceland, Faroe, Greenland, and Norway will find ways to collaborate to pool their fishing rights and share fishing vessels in ways that will make economic sense for them. A trawler can then be fishing during the first part of the year in one jurisdiction, then in another for the next few months, and so on. The idea that you can stop businesses from working together across national borders is out of touch with today’s reality.”

Full utilization

Pelagic trawler Fagraberg remains a success story since purchased by Fram­herji back in 2006, bringing in a steady stream of fresh mackerel, herring and blue whiting for processing at Fugla­fjørður and elsewhere. With the abundance of these species in Faroese waters, the country’s pelagic fishing industry has experienced an economic boom in recent years. Meanwhile, factory trawler Akra­berg, purchased in 2013, is a highly versatile fishing vessel equipped with freezing and processing facilities as well as cooling tanks, providing several options as for target species and handling.

The Akra­berg is mostly being used on cod and other whitefish in the Barents Sea with part of the catch being filleted and frozen at sea, and part of it being whole frozen, the latter largely sold to onshore processing plants, in the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway; the sea-frozen fillets, meanwhile, are predominantly shipped to the UK fish and chips market.

To make sure all offcuts from the processing lines on board the Akra­berg get fully utilized, alongside any and all unwanted bycatch that may get mixed into the targeted whitefish, Fram­herji has decided to install an ensiling system on board the trawler. The ensilage will be supplied to fishmeal and feed factory Havbrún for use as part of the ingredients that make up their salmon feed products.

“Because of the fact that the Akra­berg is already equipped with the relevant tanks, the investment needed for installing this system is limited,” Ms. Eldevig said. “We intend to proceed with it during this summer’s routine maintenance work. We wanted to take a proactive approach to the issue of offal discards and do something about it now, as opposed to waiting for some new regulations that could be forthcoming in the next couple of years or so. With this new arrangement, we will have a win-win scenario as it requires only a relatively small investment while at the same time enabling us to make sure that discarding any fish or offcuts will make no sense whatsoever for the Akra­berg — we will get value out of every piece of catch, which of course is a very good thing.”