Falkland Islands fishing companies had tons of reasons to be cheerful as the first Loligo squid season of 2012 drew to a close last weekend.
Director of Fisheries John Barton described the season as, “bumper,” explaining that 34.900 tons had been caught by the mainly Falklands’ vessels involved; that is more than the entire catch of 2011 when a total of 34,600 tons was caught.
Fourteen Falklands flagged vessels make up the Loligo fleet plus one British and another from Spain.
Commenting on the success of the season Beauchene Fishing Company Ltd owner Cheryl Roberts confirmed, “it has been an absolutely brilliant season; one of our vessels transhipped three times and another twice.”
Other companies to enjoy the season were Argos Ltd, Fortuna Ltd., RBC Ltd, Southern Cross Ltd, Seaview Ltd and Seafish Ltd.
Director Barton added “that the Ilex season is still going along but with fairly modest catch levels.”
Although total Illex squid catch is up to 64.000 tonnes, which is reasonable, there are around 90 jiggers involved compared to the 16 in the Loligo Illex fishery, thus catch per vessel is relatively low.
Asked if it seemed likely the season would shut early Mr Barton said “we will keep an eye on it,” but emphasised there was no immediate danger. He said “there have been a lot of years when we haven’t caught anywhere near that.”
With regard to finfish, Fisheries Department scientists are currently involved in a conservation research project on board Castelo, said Mr. Barton. This involves, “looking at doing a bit more work on mesh size trials to see if there is scope to introduce different minimum mesh sizes.”
If mesh sizes are larger, smaller fish such as rock cod will be able to escape before being brought on board the vessels rather than being discarded after being caught.
Training for crew
A number of crew of Falklands owned fishing vessels are currently undertaking Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) safety awareness and risk assessment courses, Mrs Roberts also confirmed when speaking to Penguin News.
Beauchene Fishing Company Ltd, “have brought an inspector down to carry the training for crews of our two vessels along with some of the crew for CFL Gambler, Consolidated Fisheries long-liner,” she explained.
The training takes place over six days and is being conducted at the Chamber of Commerce. Mrs Roberts described it as a positive move that, “more is being done within the Islands with local companies and with our joint venture companies in relation to the Falklands fishing industry.”
Mrs Roberts who is also Chair of the Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association (FIFCA) noted that FIFCA will be attending and manning a stand at the annual European Seafood Exposition in Brussels running from April 24-26. She commented “we will be interested to see how the Loligo prices are standing up. (Penguin News)