Purse seining for higher value mackerel, a fully operational silage system on a freezer trawler, a longliner fitted with freezing capacity—Framherji continues to focus on optimizing its fleet of fishing vessels toward full resource utilization.
Framherji, one of the leading and most innovative fishing companies in the Faroe Islands, is relentlessly pursuing ways to steer its diverse fleet of vessels toward full resource utilization. The company regularly invests in development and technologies that can help increase economic and environmental viability across a variety of fisheries, still without rocking the proverbial boat too hard.
To an extent, Framherji has reconfigured its fleet of fishing vessels by increasing the number of longliners from one to three; meanwhile its larger vessels remain three as before—pelagic trawler Fagraberg, purse seiner/pelagic trawler Høgaberg, and freezer trawler Akraberg.
Since early 2016, the Fuglafjørður-based company has increased its engagement in the longline segment, acquiring all of the shares in Eysturoy, owner of the two longliners Mascot and Sigmund. Shortly prior to that, the company replaced its older longliner Stapin with a newer one, equipped with on-board freezing capacity.
“The Stapin is one of only five freezer longliners in the entire Faroese fishing fleet,” Framherji managing partner Anfinn Olsen noted.
“Traditionally, we haven’t had freezer longliners much in the Faroes but in recent years they have started to appear and I would say the experience has generally been a very good one, at least from our perspective; it’s quite a successful concept and allows for long distance trips if necessary.”
Mr. Olsen added: “Particularly when they have freezing capacity, longliners are a more economically viable proposition now than they were before better fishing rights were secured for Faroese longliners on Flemish Cap as well as in Greenlandic and Icelandic waters.”
While the Stapin targets cod, haddock and other whitefish species in domestic waters as well as in more distant waters, the Mascot and the Sigmund fish for the same species only inside the Faroese exclusive economic zone.
‘Before too long’
The Akraberg, a highly versatile trawler equipped with freezing and processing facilities alongside refrigerated sea water tanks, plus silage tanks for offcuts, is active both within the Faroese EEZ and in distant waters such as the Barents Sea. With several options as for target species and handling, the Akraberg is mostly being used on cod and other whitefish in the Barents Sea with the catch either being filleted and frozen at sea or being whole frozen, depending on market prices. In between seasons, the Akraberg also works as a factory shrimper.
All offcuts from the Akraberg’s processing lines is fully utilized, as is any and all unwanted by-catch that may get mixed into the targeted species, thanks to the ensiling system on board the trawler that became fully operational in 2017. The ensilage is supplied to fishmeal, fish oil and feed factory Havsbrún on a regular basis.
Economically, however, pelagic fisheries remain the most important, due to the vast volumes involved, primarily centered on mackerel, herring, blue whiting and, to a lesser extent, capelin. With two vessels involved in these fisheries, the Fagraberg and the Høgaberg, Framherji is one of the leaders in the business. The Fagraberg is a high-capacity, top performing pelagic trawler, while the slightly smaller Høgaberg is slightly more modern and fitted for purse seining. Currently, the Høgaberg is involved in test runs on mackerel, specifically aimed for the Japanese market, using purse seine nets and relying on extra short trips for maximum product quality. The testing is undertaken in close collaboration with the representative of a Japanese buyer and Fuglafjørður’s Pelagos processing plant, in which Framherji’s investment entity Fram Invest is a shareholder.
“The Japanese market for mackerel is highly selective, but also known to be stable and loyal to suppliers once accepted,” Mr. Olsen said.
“The Faroe Islands is still seen as being in the process of establishing itself as a player in this market. However, we’re hopeful of results, in time—we’re aware it will take time to build the necessary level of trust there.”
Overall catch has been good for a number of years with acceptable financial results on the bottom line, according to Mr. Olsen. However, he warned, the Faroe Islands’ new fisheries legislation remains partly unfinished and is still fraught with uncertainties.
“As things stand, the situation surrounding the fisheries reform is still a source of concern, even if we’ve seen good progress in the past few months,” he said in May 2018. “We continue through our trade organizations to work with policymakers and hope for more progress before too long.”