The winter mackerel fishery in the North Sea quickly gathered momentum last week, after good marks of fish were located around 50 miles southeast of Fair Isle by the first midwater boats to leave Peterhead and Fraserburgh, reports David Linkie.

Above: Girl Stephanie discharging mackerel at Lerwick last week. (Photo: Ivan Reid)

Fishing only a few hours from their home ports, skippers and crews were able to complete extremely short trips before starting to land prime-quality MSC-accredited mackerel within just a few hours of fish being pumped aboard.

Although Storm Ophelia generated severe gales and heavy seas, some 20 Norwegian pelagic vessels crossed the North Sea ready to start fishing east of Fair Isle and Orkney as conditions started to moderate.

By the middle of the week, a number of Co Donegal midwater pair trawlers, including skipper Ciaran Doherty’s new Aine, fishing her maiden trip with Neptune, started to arrive on the grounds, where they were joined by more boats from northeast Scotland, and the first of the Shetland fleet.

Catches generally consisted of fish averaging between 380g and 420g. Processors in Scotland were reported to be paying around £2.15/g, as a result of which 400g fish were securing around £860 per tonne.

Chris Andra, Kings Cross, Pathway, Taits II, and Unity were among the first boats to land to local processors at Peterhead, while Lunar Bow started the season off at Fraserburgh with back-to-back landings.

The new Peterhead sisterships Kings Cross and Pathway were purse-seining for the first time since being completed by Karstensens Shipyard, 12 and five months ago respectively.

Quantus PD 379 landed in Lerwick after the Killybegs pair-trawlers Girl Stephanie and Western Chieftain had started the ball rolling by being the first Irish vessels on the grounds.

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