Updated: Jul 6, 2022
The development of Vónin’s Falcon and Falcon+ mackerel trawls has echoed the evolution of the mackerel fishery over recent years. Most recently with the Faroese fleet switching to this type of gear as the nature of the fishery has changed.
(Photo 📸 Vónin)
‘Until a few years ago, mackerel in Faroese waters were mainly on large, tight marks, and the gear that fished well on this was a trawl with a wide and long belly – and there was no need to tow too fast. 4,5 and up 5 knots was enough for mackerel,’ explained Vónin’s Frederik Hansen.
In contrast, fishing in Greenland, Iceland and north of Faroese zone has presented different challenges, with more scattered fish sitting high in the water, and the crucial difference is that these are larger, faster-swimming fish. So when fishing in Faroese waters changed in the same way, with the fishery to the north of the Faroese zone and into international waters, the fleet with its heavier gear that had worked well on smaller mackerel was left at a disadvantage.
This was where the lightweight Falcon trawl with its shorter belly quickly came into its own with the Faroese fleet, having already performed well for Greenlandic trawlers.
(Photo 📸 Vónin / Falcon, mackerel trawl in the flume tank at Sintef)
‘The Falcon is a speedy hunter, hence the name we used for this compact trawl design,’ Frederik Hansen said. ‘Some of the fleet were able to get trawls that had already been used in Greenland, plus we also had one Falcon 1920 trawl in stock that had been available for hire, so that came into use as well. These pelagic vessels all did much better as they adapted to fish with lightweight trawl gear that would let them tow at 5.5 knots or more and be flexible in manoeuvring to target marks of fast-swimming mackerel.’
The next development was the Falcon+. This is much the same trawl, but the forward section has been re-engineered to close off the space between the upper and lower sweeplines with large-mesh netting.
‘This effectively extends the wings of the trawl all the way forward to the doors, creating a trawl with extremely long wings,’ he explained.
The first of these ultra-long-wing trawls was supplied mid-mackerel season last year to JFK’s Borgarinn, and despite the crew’s concerns about handling the gear on board, there were no problems.
‘This trawl worked very well for Borgarin,’ he said.
(Photo 📸 Vónin / Faroese pelagic vessel Borgarin)
‘It’s a key factor in this fishery to be able to manoeuvre quickly. Especially if the mackerel are heading in a different direction, in a tight turn there’s a danger of losing the fish that’s in the trawl mouth out between the sweeplines. So these extended wings herd the fish more effectively into the gear.’
He added that the development process hasn’t ended there, and more of Vónin’s Capto rope is now going into the construction of these trawls, now taking it into belly.
‘Even if the mesh sizes and the rope dimensions are the same as before, using Capto rope in these meshes makes the trawl lighter and better to tow. Now the season for mackerel is about to start and we’re waiting to see what this fishing patterns are going to look like,’ he said, adding that Vónin’s Twister doors have been shown to be a perfect fit with the Falcon trawls.
‘These are very good doors. When the mackerel are high in the water, these doors will stay stable at five or ten metres below the surface. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on these.’
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