A quiet season for lumpfish roe marked by harsh weather conditions
The fishing season of the coveted lumpfish roe is short and limited to a few months each year. This year the season has been marked by a combination of poor weather conditions and the 47-day rule. This has made the fishery more difficult, which have resulted in a quiet season and a lower intake than last year.
Lower intake at processing facilities
Out of the total quota of 1500 tons, 737 tons has this year been landed compared to 1000 tons last year. A great factor to the decreased intake is to be found in this season's weather conditions. Harsh weather conditions have characterized the spring and early summer on Greenland with frequent storms that have made sailing in the small dinghies rough or even impossible.
Because the small scale fishery takes place inshore, the local fishermen use dinghies to maintain and empty their nets. This makes the fishery exposed to weather conditions, as a storm can prevent the fishermen from reaching and emptying their nets. Each fisherman operates 10-15 gill nets that are checked, maintained and emptied on a daily basis.
Fishermen haul their gill nets onboard
The poor weather conditions have resulted in a generally lower intake in all of Royal Greenland's factories, except in the settlements Ikamiut and Ikerasaarsuk that have seen a slight increase this year. Royal Greenland's factory in Qeqertarsuaq has received 38 tons which is a decrease of approximately 45% compared to last year, where the entire quota of 63 ton was reached.
Lumpfish roe being processed at our factory in Nuuk
The 47-day rule
The season stretches from late March to the beginning of July, but the quota is divided between 6 landing areas along the western coast of Greenland, which in pairs of two hold the quota for 47 days at most.
The season begins when the lumpfish swims into shallow waters to spawn, signaled by springtime's rising water temperatures. The southernmost part of Greenland begins the season, as the water becomes warmer here first. The season then travels up along the west coast, where the quota is passed on to the next area, until it reaches the area in Disco Bay. In late June the lumpfish finish spawning and swim back to deeper waters again, and the season comes to a natural end.
If an intake area suffers due to poor weather conditions when the quota is available, the short season for the lumpfish fishery can become even shorter, as the combination of the 47-day rule and poor weather conditions offers a very little window of time for the fishermen to land the important catch.
A small but important fishery
Even though the season for lumpfish fishery is very short, it is of utmost importance. In smaller settlements, lumpfish is one of few species that can be landed due to limited requirements for processing equipment. Because of this, fishermen can earn a large part of their yearly income during the short and intense season for lumpfish roe and the fishery thus plays an important part of sustaining more isolated settlements along the coast. Some fishermen are capable of delivering up to 10 tons of roe and thereby earn a large part of their yearly income during the few weeks the quota is available in their intake area.
After the season has ended, most fishermen switch their focus to other species such as cod or halibut where it is possible and others hunt for game or take on jobs in the local community.
Simple processing provides competitiveness
Lumpfish roe is processed immediately after landing. The processing does not require large freezing facilities, which makes even small settlements and factories fully competitive to larger and more advanced processing facilities.
Royal Greenland's close cooperation with local fishermen and own production ensures a strong vertical integration in the production and full traceability.