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Icelandic trawler Margrét with Twister trawl doors


With the sudden prospect of a heavy capelin season that nobody expected this spring, Icelandic fishing company Samherji added to its fleet with the former Christina S from Fraserburgh to help bridge the gap. 

Skipper Hjörtur Valsson took over the 15-year old pelagic trawler with its Scottish owners awaiting the delivery of a newbuild from Karstensens. The newly renamed Margrét started its career in Iceland operating as a tender, as the pursers pumped capelin catches into its tanks to be delivered to processing plants.

Vónin gear

It wasn’t until the capelin season had come to an end that Margrét was for fishing. They made a start after Easter, heading for blue whiting with a package of Vónin gear on board. The 2016 metre trawl and its codend weren’t new and had been in the company’s store for a while. But the new 2600 metre trawl, codend and a 12m2 pair of Twister doors came from Vónin and proved their worth as Margrét completed four 1800-tonne trips on blue whiting.

The last few months have involved fishing for herring, mackerel and blue whiting, as well as tendering during the capelin fishery

‘We had one landing in Skagen, and the other trips were landed to Síldarvinnslan in Neskaupstaður and Seyðisfjörður,’ skipper Hjörtur Valsson said.

‘I’m very happy with the trawl. This is a big set of gear and it’s ideal for dispersed blue whiting. We wouldn’t use this size of trawl for anything else. It tows well and I can tow this with the same pitch on the propeller as the smaller trawl. Óli at Vónin promised us that. And he was right! This is a newer design of trawl, made in finer twine sizes so the drag is kept low, and we didn’t pop a single mesh the whole time.’

Twister trawl doors
Twister doors

‘I’m very satisfied with the Twister doors from Vónin. We’ve been using these for every fishery with different trawls. They’ve performed perfectly, square away well and tow very comfortably. They don’t close up when there’s some fish in the codend. Fishing for mackerel is all close to the surface and they stayed high in the water where we needed them. These are some of the best doors I’ve used,’ he said.

These are the standard Twister design, and they come with manually adjustable flaps that can be set before the gear is shot away.

Skipper Hjörtur Valsson

‘It’s no problem to adjust them, that’s the work of a few minutes. But I can see the advantages of the technology with the automatic Twisters. They allow you to set the required depth, and then they just stay there.’

‘Particularly fishing close to the surface, such as on mackerel, if you take a turn then one door drops and the other lifts, but if they stay at a set depth then you can take a tighter turn, at the same time as keeping the gear fully open,’ Hjörtur Valsson said.

Margrét alongside in Fuglafjørður with the new doors at the stern and the 2600 trawl being spooled on board

‘These manual Twister doors have performed extremely well, but there are still limits to what you can do and how sharply you can turn,’  he said as, while Margrét was alongside after landing a trip of Atlanto-Scandian herring in Norway and before heading back out for another herring trip.

He commented that after a few trips on herring, he expects to be back using the big 2600 metre trawl again as Margrét goes back to blue whiting and with a few breaks to rest the crew, that should take them up to the end of the year.

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