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Pelagos Acquires PP Faroe Pelagic Factory in Kollafjørður to Become Faroe Islands’ Largest Operator of Freezing Plants

Aerial shot of the PP Faroe Pelagic freezing plant at Kollafjørður. Image credits: Jens Kristian Vang.

The shareholders of PP Faroe Pelagic, Kollafjørður, have signed a Letter of Intent with Pelagos, Fuglafjørður, on the transfer of the ownership of PP Faroe Pelagic, the two parties announced in a joint statement.

“Subject to the fulfillment by both parties of relevant conditions outlined in the Letter of Intent, PP Faroe Pelagic and Pelagos have agreed in principle on the ownership transfer to take place in full by December 1st, 2023,” the statement, dated on August 19th, read. 

The deal will not affect the indirect holdings of Parlevliet & van der Plas, Netherlands, in fishing companies Næraberg, JFK and Kósin, we’re told.

“Both parties,” likewise, “have agreed that the acquisition will entail no operational disruption for PP Faroe Pelagic and that all workers currently employed there will be given the opportunity to continue in their jobs at the same place under the new employer.” 

The deal will make Pelagos the leading owner-operator of freezing plants for pelagic fish in the Faroe Islands, with one such facility in Fuglafjørður and one in Kollafjørður.

PP Faroe Pelagic entered the Faroe Islands’ onshore pelagic processing business when the company, in 2009, took over the failing freezing plant known as Kollafjord Pelagic. With extensive experience in building and operating similar freezing plants in other countries, PP Faroe Pelagic successfully brought to bear its market-leading specialist knowledge. The company demonstrated the technical and economic viability of commercial processing of pelagic fish for human consumption on land in the Faroe Islands, effectively paving the way for the two other similar processing plants that were later built in the country. 

The Pelagos freezing plant opened for business in 2014. Its shareholders are Havsbrún, Framherji, Palli hjá Mariannu, and á Enni. 

PP Faroe Pelagic is indirectly owned by Parlevliet & van der Plas, Netherlands.

Faroese Communities, Businesses Feel Pinch from Port Closure for Russian Fishing Vessels

Russian vessels berthed at Tórshavn's Fort Wharf, April 21st, 2023. Image credits: Bui Tyril.

Tiny Faroe Islands have at last caved in to shoot themselves in the proverbial foot by joining the band wagon of economic sanctions against Russia following the giant country’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

After months of back and forth over the socioeconomic danger of embarking on an exercise in potential self-hurt, the Faroese Government a month ago announced a measure of significant port closures to reduce the activities of Russian fishing vessels in the island nation.

“The Government of the Faroe Islands has imposed further restrictive measures against Russia by considerably limiting port access for Russian fishing vessels,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated, calling the Russian Federation’s so-called special military operation an “illegal attack on Ukraine” with some largely symbolic responsive measures initiated in June 2022. 

“These measures have been amended with executive order number 89 of 6 July 2023, entering into force on 12 July 2023,” the Government stated on July 7th. 

Under this executive order, harsh restrictions imposed on Russian fishing vessels, controversially, make their operations in Faroese ports impossible for all intents and purposes. 

“Since 5 July 2022, [merchant] vessels registered under the Russian flag have not been provided access to Faroese ports,” the Government statement added. “During this period, fishing vessels have been exempted from Faroese restrictive measures. With the new measures only Russian fishing vessels exclusively conducting fisheries under the bilateral agreement between the Faroe Islands and Russia will be allowed to enter Faroese ports. These Russian fishing vessels may continue to conduct crew change, bunkering, provisioning, landing and transshipment.”

A main argument cited in the Faroes for abstaining from implementing sanctions on fishing vessels, is the fact that the United Nations Secretary General has unambiguously advised against sanctioning food to avoid causing food scarcity anywhere in the world.  As it turns out, however, that argument has now been overruled essentially without explanation.

Shortly after the public announcement of these new anti-Russian measures, Russian vessels vanished out of sight, perhaps unexpectedly for those who somewhat naively may have imagined that the vessels would continue to call at the ports despite the virtual blanket ban—after all, these are generally vessels with mixed holds and it would be all but impossible for them to separate their fish caught in Faroese waters from fish caught in international waters nearby. 

Their sudden disappearance has caused a stir in places where Russian vessels were most commonly seen, most notably Runavík, Fuglafjørður, and Klaksvík, and to an extent Tórshavn as well.

“It looks eerie to me seeing the Port of Runavík completely void of ships,” said Magnus Rasmussen, a member of the Løgting. “Not a single vessel in sight along the extensive quayside of Runavík, this demonstrates very tangibly how the consequences of the current policies affect us in the Skálafjørður region. This is a hammer blow to this area, inasmuch as port related business has generated substantial amounts to, amongst others, service providers and the municipal council’s treasury.”

Jógvan á Lakjuni, director of the Port of Klaksvík, confirmed the dim impression conveyed by others. “This is not looking good,” he noted. “Quite a few providers are losing business.”

Fuglafjørður, the main place to go for bunkering plus other essential services, is loosing substantial amounts as well. As for Tórshavn, with a more diversified port business, the revenue loss will be relatively less severe. And yet the problem could potentially spiral to affect the two factory trawlers registered there. 

Already, the likes of Faroe Agency, a port agency squarely focused on serving Russian vessels, can be expected to go out of business in short order—an otherwise reputable, profitable business with ten employees now redundant and three workboats idle.

Combined, the port business and provision of related services to Russian vessels alongside the Barents Sea fishing business is estimated to generate an annual 1.2 billion DKK (161 million EUR) for the Faroe Islands—a large chunk of the economy of a merely 54,000-strong population. Of that turnover, the port business and related services represents an estimate one-third with fishing representing the remaining two-thirds.

Short memory

According to industry representatives, the new executive order to close Faroese ports to Russian fishing vessels carries the risk of becoming highly self-defeating. A microstate dependent on seafood exports, the Faroes has a large portion of its distant-water cod and haddock fisheries taking place in Russian waters in the Barents Sea under a bilateral fishery treaty that has been in force uninterupted for about 47 years. 

That treaty could now be in jeopardy, as since its inception the provision of services to Russian vessels in the Faroes has been integral to it. 

The Faroese government, meanwhile, has argued that it has not decided to withdraw from the fisheries agreement with Russia, suggesting that the treaty is still on track for routine negotiations for the regular one-year extension in due course, that is later in the autumn. Indeed, all the political parties forming the current government coalition, unanimously, prior to the recent general election publicly made a point of intending to maintain the fisheries cooperation with Russia. 

Yet today there is palpable uneasiness over the treaty’s future, perhaps for good reason. Three top-notch new trawlers at 350 to 420 million DKK (47 to 56 mln. EUR) a piece have been built for Faroese fishing companies within the last year or so, with the newest still to be delivered. Without access to Russian waters, these vessels, along with a couple of older ones, would essentially lose their commercial basis with the risk of putting a total of about 200 crew on the Barents Sea trawler fleet out of work.

“Our prospects would look bleak without access to Russian waters in the Barents Sea,” said Kaj Johannessen, CEO of Havborg, owner-operator of newly delivered trawler Emerald. 

Explaining the linkage between the Faroe Islands’ Barents Sea fishing industry and the now elusive port services and related offerings for the Russians, Karl-Erik Reynheim, CEO of Faroe Agency, in a widely publicized article of October 2022 warned: “All trade relations are about give and take. Although for the time being some people seem to have a hard time understanding this, the business activities of Russian vessels in Faroese waters and ports and the fishing operations of Faroese factory trawlers in the Barents Sea are inseparately  connected. Our services and provisions to the Russian vessels are essential for their fisheries in our waters and associated shipments of fish products. If we were to close this, it would no longer be viable for Russian vessels to fish and make transshipments in our waters; their incentive for retaining a pelagic fish quota in the Faroes would of course disappear as well, which at the same time would mean that the Faroese catch quota for whitefish in the Russian sector of the Barents Sea would be lost, too.”

Meanwhile, in a sign that the government coalition may not be on politically firm ground on this issue, Sigrid J. Dalsgaard, a prominent member of the Republican Party, on August 8th publicly asked for clarification as for when the anti-Russian measures can be expected to be lifted.

As sloganeering slowly gives way to economic reality, the Faroese are set to find themselves confronted with a rather bitter realization: that big talk is cheap and so-called allies and friends, once they’re needed for help and support, will perhaps not be as readily available as imagined. When push comes to shove, as recent history suggests, they may have no qualms sanctioning the Faroese to hell should they not behave as told, whether on disputed fishing rights, the killing of whales or anything else running afoul with certain crowds. As late as only a decade ago, the Russians literally saved the Faroese economically by providing much-needed market access amid severe boycotts imposed on the islands by the EU including even the Danes, and the Brits as well as the Norwegians, all of whom closed off their ports to Faroese fishing vessels over a catch quota dispute. Sadly, the Faroese appear to have a rather short memory.

The Emerald Arrives: Havborg’s New Magnificent Trawler—video



Fishing company Havborg’s magnificent new factory trawler Emerald arrived in her home port of Tórshavn on July 13th, greeted by a sizeable group of people gathered at the East Harbour to welcome the latest addition the Faroe Islands’ fleet of commercial fishing vessels.

Built in Turkey, the versatile trawler is equipped with processing plants for both shrimp and groundfish as well as fishmeal and fish oil. Part of a new generation of freezer trawlers for the Faroese, the Emerald is a top-notch fishing vessel in every respect with all the latest in technology, hardly matched by any of its kind.

“We set out to build a shrimper and then installed a cod filleting line as well and then by the way also a fishmeal plant,” said Havborg CEO Kaj Johannessen. “Because you need options, as fishing is a very unpredictable business rife with uncertainties.”

The Emerald joins the 30-year old factory trawler Enniberg in the fishing enterprise founded and owned by famous former skipper Mortan Johannessen, Kaj Johannessen’s father.

Designed to work in distant waters such as the Barents Sea, the 87.50 meter long Emerald with a 18m beam is currently the largest fishing vessel of the Faroes. On shrimp there will be a crew of 20 whereas on cod the crew will be 34-strong, we’re told. The Emerald has accommodation on board for up to 40 crew members.

Designed for triple-rig trawling, the trawler has the option of upgrading to quad-rigging.

The Emerald has a 2,250 cubic meter fishroom and a hold capacity of 1,000 tonnes of frozen production.


JT Electric Rebrands to GroAqua

Underwater shot from the inside of a fish farming cage (screenshot from GroAqua promotional video).

Faroese aquatech supplier JT Electric and its overseas subsidiary Sterner AquaTech UK have rebranded to GroAqua, the company announced. “The rebranding combines the strengths from both companies to provide sustainable technology solutions to the aquaculture industry,” a statement from the rebranded company read. 

“The people and the products remain the same, with decades of experience in the harsh North Atlantic, but the new brand signifies a commitment to facilitating sustainable fish growth,” we’re told.

“Our strategy is to be one of the leading suppliers of fish growth solutions to the aquaculture industry,” CEO Suni Justinussen was quoted as saying, adding that “the rebranding signifies our strong commitment to support fish farmers in their growth.”

GroAqua specializes in “facilitating sustainable fish growth with a range of technical solutions to remotely monitor and control the feeding and breeding process—both in seawater and freshwater.”

Faroese Fish Exports to Russia Bounce Back to Pre-war Levels

Handling cargo in the Port of Tórshavn, April 21st, 2023. Image credits: Bui Tyril.

Although Faroese exports to Russia dropped significantly in the spring of 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February that year, exports have since climbed back to their pre-February 2022 levels, according to Statistics Faroe Islands.

Thus February of this year saw Faroese exports to Russia of pelagic fish species mackerel, herring and blue whiting amount to 105.4 million DKK (14 mn. EUR), compared to only 58.8 mn. DKK (7.81 mn. EUR) during the same month last year. 

In February the exports from the Faroes to Russia of ‘other goods’ amounted to 12.4 mn. DKK (1.65 mn. EUR), which is normal for February. This will usually include fuel to Russian fishing vessels docking in the Faroes.

In November of last year, the Faroes and Russia extended their longstanding bilateral fisheries agreement for another year, and currently the continuation of that arrangement is being debated with differing opinions at the political level.

Prime Minister Aksel V. Johannesen said on April 12th that this is a matter that requires time to thoroughly examine for potential consequences.

The Prime Minister added that the goal is to reach an agreement between all parties represented in parliament.

“We should be speaking with one voice when it comes to foreign relations,” he said.

Overall, Faroese fish exports increased by 2.1 billion DKK (280 mn. EUR) between March 2022 and February 2023, compared to the previous twelve months. The total value of exports for the period amounted to 12.9 bn. DKK (1.71 bn. EUR), with fish products making up 11.8 bn. DKK (1.57 bn. EUR).

Statistics Faroe Islands also noted that total imports for the same period amounted to 12.8 billion DKK, a 3.3-billion increase on the previous 12 months.

Faroese Invent New Method of Extinguishing Lithium Battery Fires

Discharging car deck of RoPax ferry Norröna (file photo).

With notoriously frightening prospects of lithium-ion batteries of electric vehicles catching fire under certain conditions, ferry operators are increasingly looking for ways to improve fire safety as more and more car owners switch to EVs. In Norway, for example, some ferry operators have opted to ban EVs from boarding their ferries over fire safety concerns. 

The Faroese, meanwhile, appear to have found a new way to quench such virtually unstoppable fires, using some mix of salty brine as extinguishing fluid. According to news reports, Smyril Line, the Faroese owner and operator of RoPax ferry Norröna, has successfully tested such a method.

Carried out in Port of Tórshavn on April 17th, the probe involved a method based on brine as a cooling and extinguishing agent, and turned out a success, with an EV lithium-ion battery fire extinguished in just under one hour from the start of the test run.

Tórshavn fire chief Heini Østerø told broadcaster KvF that the crew of Smyril Line’s cruise ferry can now feel safer since they have become better equipped to deal with any potential fire in an EV aboard the ferry.

Tummas Justinussen, chairman of the board of Smyril Line, said the idea of the new cooling and extinguishing agent was inspired from the brine freezing of crabs.

This new fire extinguishing method for EV lithium battery fires has been patented, Mr. Justinussen noted, with several companies already having shown interest in it.

The Norröna will thus allow EVs on board, however under a specific reporting requirement in connection with car ticket bookings, we’re told.

Faroese Sustainable Business Initiative Wins 2023 EDIE Award for Partnership and Collaboration

Representatives from Burðardygt Vinnulív headed by chairman Jan Ziskasen (centered), at the awards ceremony in London, March 30th, 2023.

The Faroese Sustainable Business Initiative—Burðardygt Vinnulív, as the network is known in Faroese—claimed this year’s international EDIE award for Partnership and Collaboration.

In competition with eight other nominees in the same category, Burðardygt Vinnulív received the prize for Partnership and Collaboration of the Year at the awards event in London on March 30th.

Burðardygt Vinnulív was founded in 2021 with the stated aim to “advance sustainable business practices and contribute towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as Goal 13: Climate Action.”

The EDIE awards are known as the UK’s largest and most prestigious sustainability awards, recognizing excellence across the spectrum of ‘green’ business, including both large and small initiatives and projects.

“This collaboration has achieved significant, impressive progress in its first year,” the judges said. “It has brought together a diverse set of partners to take the initiative and fill a void where regulations were not present; working together for ambitious goals. We were impressed by the highly systemic and participative approach taken by such a small community, making this initiative a worthy winner of a very popular category.”

The twelve founding companies behind Burðardygt Vinnulív are: Bakkafrost, Betri Banki, Effo, Faroe Ship, Føroya Tele (Faroese Telecom), Gist & Vist, JT electric, KJ Hydraulik, MBM, P/F Poul Michelsen, SMJ and Vónin.

Atlantic Airways Expands Further in Hotel Business As It Acquires Hotel Vágar

Hotel Vágar, now owned by Atlantic Airways through a subsidiary, will be operated by Hotel Atlantic alongside Hilton Garden Inn Faroe Islands.

Hotel Vágar, the hotel located next to Vagar Airport, has been acquired by Atlantic Airways through a subsidiary, at an undisclosed amount. The hotel will thus be run by Hotel Atlantic, the operator of the Hilton Garden Inn Faroe Islands, according to a news release issued by the new owners.

The transfer of ownership from Hotel Føroyar-linked hospitality provider Gist og Vist was reportedly finalized on March 30th, with the 25-room capacity Hotel Vágar now to be undergoing refurbishments.

“We couldn’t let this opportunity pass,” said Hotel Atlantic chairman Niels Mortensen. “It’s of great importance for the Faroes to have a decent hotel in the vicinity of the airport to provide accomodation at this important hub connecting us to the rest of the world. Furthermore, Hotel Vágar is located in the heart of the island Vágar, which in itself is a great travel destination. Hence this is also a step in developing tourism outside the capital.” 

Mr. Mortensen underscored that the new owners have decided to “operate Hotel Vágar as an independent hotel that will neither become part of Hilton or any other hotel chain, although there’s a viable option of collaboration between the hotels.”

“We will immediately get going with renovating and modernizing Hotel Vágar,” Mr. Mortensen was further quoted as saying. “The hotel will open newly renovated in the fall, at which point we will be ready to offer both Faroese and foreign visitors an excellent choice for vacation and accommodation on Vágar island.”

The chairman also suggested, according to the statement, that Hotel Vágar will likewise be well suited for accommodating foreign helicopter pilots and rescue workers that are expected to be undergoing exercises in a helicopter simulator run by Atlantic Airways Aviation Academy by the first half of 2024. 

Port of Runavík Reports Record Number of Scheduled Cruise Calls

The Silver Whisper leaving Runavík (file photo). Image credits: Port of Runavík.

This year and the next, a record number of cruise ferries are reportedly scheduled to visit the Port of Runavík. Most of the vessels will be docking at the King’s Harbour in Runavík, while three of the smaller ones will anchor off the villages Elduvík and Funningur in the north of Eysturoy. Each of the cruise ships will have between 100 and 2,800 passengers on board plus an up to 1,100-strong crew, according to the Port of Runavík.

The largest of the ships, the 300-meter Nieuw Statendam, set to arrive at King’s Harbour in September this year with almost 4,000 passengers including crew and officers, is owned by Holland America Line.

With the number of calls for next year likely to increase in the weeks and months ahead, the Port of Runavík has already received as many bookings for 2024 as for this year, we’re told.

Three of the cruise ships calling at the Port of Runavík this summer are to be docking for two days.

Freezer Trawler Brestir Reports Success Using New Infigo 576 Trawl Design

Skipper Birgir Hansen at the stern of the Brestir, showing the new Infigo 576 gear. Image credits: Vónin.

Faroese freezer trawler Brestir VA 705, which back in July began using the new 576-mesh bottom trawl from Vónin known as Infigo 576, has reported that the new gear is proving to be a success after months of fishing.

“This trawl has shown that it maintains the opening for longer, so it fishes longer and more effectively,” skipper Birgir Hansen stated, referring to the fact that in the Infigo 576 design, the fishing line is the same length as that of the previously used 400-mesh gear, while at the same time there’s much more netting in the upper section of it, providing a significantly larger opening compared to the older trawl.

“We’ve also noticed there are fewer stickers in the netting,” he added according to a Vónin news release.

The new trawl design is split in the aft section, with two bellies and two bags; so even if it’s much larger, it’s only marginally heavier to tow than the old gear, we’re told.

“This trawl tows well, even in heavy weather,” the skipper said. “The trawl is as robust as the old gear, and we’ve hauled it off a fastener and onto the deck with one parted bridle, and the damage was no more than we would have expected with the old trawl.”

“We haven’t even used the old gear since we started fishing with the Infigo gear,” Mr. Hansen further noted. “We fished so well on Greenland halibut off East Greenland that one of the skippers that were fishing next to us said we were getting with this trawl around two-thirds of what he was catching with two trawls. I’m so pleased with this trawl that it’s the only gear we’ve been using since it came on board last summer; and we have fished in East Greenland, UK waters and around the Faroe Islands.”

Sørvágur-based freezer trawler Brestir, built in 1986.