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Faroese pelagic vessel Katrin Jóhanna
Faroese pelagic vessel Katrin Jóhanna

Pelagic trawl tailored to towing power

Faroese pelagic vessel Katrin Jóhanna has done well on blue whiting this year. We caught up with skipper Árni Dalsgaard between seasons, with the fishery over for now and the vessel docked in Skagen before heading home to switch gear for the mackerel fishery north-east of the Faroe Islands.

Katrin Jóhanna has a 2300 Vónin Gannet pelagic trawl for blue whiting, which was delivered by Vónin three years ago. At the end of last year, the trawl was taken back to the net loft for some adjustments to make it lighter to tow.

‘This was a good trawl for us before, but it’s even better now with the new belly,’ Árni Dalsgaard said.

Árni Dalsgaard skipper on Katrin Jóhanna
Árni Dalsgaard, skipper on Katrin Jóhanna

‘The main change was that it now has Capto rope further back. The Capto sections only went as far as the eight-metre mesh before. The trawl is lighter to tow now, and it makes a difference as we only have a 3960kW engine power. ’

As well as extending the Capto sections, the after section has been remodelled with 100mm mesh, instead of having 60mm mesh in the top panels.

‘The idea was that this would stop fish escaping through the top panel, but I don’t think this was a problem. Now we have 100mm mesh all round in that part of the trawl and that also reduced the towing resistance. This has tailored the trawl even better to suit our towing power. There’s also lighter chain in the footrope, so we use slightly heavier wing-end weights to help the trawl to sink. This is a super trawl, light to tow and good in a turn,’ he said.

A good season

This year Katrin Jóhann started on blue whiting in January and has had a good season, catching its whole quota in Faroese waters and landing catches to Havsbrún in Fuglafjørður, with the exception of one landing in Iceland.

‘We try to fish as much as we can in Faroese waters. We don’t have that much quota that it was worth steaming south to fish west of Ireland. Because of the cost of fuel, we try to catch our fish as close to home as possible.’

Vónin Twister doors on the back of Katrin Jóhanna
Vónin Twister doors on the back of Katrin Jóhanna
Vónin Twister doors

Until recently Katrin Jóhanna’s Gannet trawl was paired with an 11 square metre set of Tornado doors, until these were switched for a 10 square metre pair of the new Twister doors.

‘The Tornado doors are very good, but the Twisters are even better. They are smaller and there’s less weight. They work very well and respond more quickly to changes in warp length or speed. We have only had them for two trips, and there are four tows in each trip – so we haven’t used them that much. But we can see that they are better,’ he said, and added that the gear spread is also improved.

´With the Tornado doors we had a wingtip spread of 230 to 235 metres, and now at the start of the tow with the codend empty, we are seeing around 250 metres. That’s around an extra 15 metres of spread,’ he said and added that the gear height is not affected, as the six kite sections rigged behind the headline ensure that the vertical opening is around 130 metres.

‘Without these, we get 105-110 metres, so they give us quite a big of additional height,’ he said.

Árni Dalsgaard commented that while Katrin Jóhanna’s Gannet pelagic trawl has been improved and performed well, that doesn’t mean that the search is over for improvements.

‘Now that fuel is so expensive, we are looking all the time for ways to make the gear lighter and more efficient. That’s the aim – to catch more and burn less.’

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