Top-Notch Fishing Vessels Strengthen Framherji

With advanced freezer trawler Akraberg recently received, fishing company Framherji has a further newbuild slated for delivery in June 2024 when purse seiner/pelagic trawler Høgaberg is to join its diverse fleet of fishing vessels.

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Freezer trawler Akraberg launching trawl nets off the stern ramp, at fishing grounds in the Barents Sea, November 2023. Image credits: Tórik Ábraham Rouah.

One of the main players in the Faroese fishing business, Fuglafjørður’s Framherji, remains on a steady course even as significant changes are taking place in the company. With a younger generation taking over the leadership mantle as majority owners Anfinn Olsen and Elisabeth Eldevig slowly move aside, it was announced in July 2023 that the couple have bought out former co-owners Samherji, of Iceland, who in turn have acquired the Framherji-owned stake in their firm.

The transactions mark the end of a long-standing partnership that goes back to 1994—in Framherji’s words, “a successful cooperation” which both parties on various occasions have praised. Both companies, however, are going through generational change and opted to increase the focus of their holdings.

Freezer trawler Akraberg. Image credits: Tórik Ábraham Rouah.

Framherji owns and operates pelagic vessels Fagraberg and soon-to-be-replaced Høgaberg, freezer trawler Akraberg, and freezer longliners Jógvan I and Stapin. The company holds a 50-percent stake in Runavík-based fishing enterprise Faroe Origin, which in turn owns and operates two onshore fish processing plants plus fresher pair teams Stelkur-Bakur and Heykur-Falkur. 

As part of the buy-out of Samherji, the Icelanders likewise sold their shares in Faroe Origin to Framherji, thereby simplifying the ownership structure in Faroe Origin, which is now 50-50 between Framherji and Gøta’s Varðin.

Framherji managing partner Anfinn Olsen. Image credits: Maria Olsen.

“Faroe Origin may benefit from this more streamlined share of ownership interests,” Mr. Olsen noted. “It may shorten some decision-making processes, which of course can be advantageous.” 

Faroe Origin could indeed need an extra advantage given the low supply of saithe which for years has hampered the company’s ability to operate at optimum efficiency levels. That issue, however, is likely to remain for now as its resolution may require some reconsiderations concerning area closure policies under the government’s fisheries management.

Freezing at sea

As for Framherji’s fishing fleet, the new 84-meter Akraberg, delivered in July 2022, has provided an upgrade to the company’s Barents Sea fishing business at multiple levels, from catch to energy efficiency to crew comfort. “One of the most advanced factory vessels afloat,” as per online fishing magazine ‘Hook & Net’, who further noted that the freezer trawler “incorporates a wealth of technology with its advanced catch handling systems for both whitefish and shrimp.”

“The Akraberg has since day one made highly effective fishing trips to the Barents Sea returning time and again earlier than expected loaded with headed and gutted frozen cod,” Mr. Olsen said.

Purse seiner/pelagic trawler Høgaberg, scheduled to be replaced in June by a newbuild of the same name. Image credits: Framherji.

In the pelagic business, the new Høgaberg—scheduled for delivery in June this year (2024)—is poised to up the ante yet some for Framherji, in particular on mackerel and herring. Built by Denmark’s Karstensens Skibsværft, the 88-meter vessel will in part focus on purse seine-caught mackerel for Japanese buyers willing to pay a premium for superior product quality. Packed with the latest technology in everything from bridge electronics through deck equipment to fish room and tanks, the Høgaberg will be fitted with refrigerated seawater (RSW) tanks as well as a freezing plant—something that goes beyond the run-of-the-mill Faroese pelagic vessel and is more typical of, say, the Dutch.

Pelagic trawler Fagraberg. Image credits: Framherji.

Pelagic trawler Fagraberg, with an exceptional track record in particular on blue whiting, is not in for replacement. Built in 1999, the vessel was purchased by Framherji in 2006. “Blue whiting is very much a game of catching large volumes quickly,” Mr. Olsen said. “The Fagraberg was an excellent investment as it turned out, and still performs well.”

Freezer longliner Jógvan I. Image credits: Framherji.

The bulk of the Faroese fleet of long­liners nowadays, meanwhile, comes equipped with freezing capacity, something that has proved vital for profitability. Framherji’s freezer longliners Stapin and Jógvan I are no exception to the rule with highly successful operations. 

Freezer longliner Stapin. Image credits: Framherji.

“It’s crucial for the longliners to be able to freeze their catch at sea. Without that capacity, they become very restricted in the sense that they will need to limit their fishing trips to only a few days in order for their catch to retain good product quality. The problem is, to fish cod in sufficient quantities using longline takes some time; so if you’re going to spend sufficient time on a fishing trip, you need a way to make sure the fish you get stays fresh—which is why freezing the fish immediately after catching it makes perfect sense. That way you can take your time and be sure to bring in top quality catch in decent volumes.”

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