The Not-So Deadliest Catch

Almost 80% of the locals in the Faroe Islands are a part of the fishing industry. Fish are the Faroe Island's number one export, so it was only natural that I go out on an excursion with some fishermen, sea-sickness be damned.

I am happy to report that I did not, in fact, get sea sick! I think the men on the boat were worried about me at times, so it was a relief to them, I suppose. I went out with three fishermen and the father from the family that is hosting me while I am in Klaksvík, Jóannes.

Klaksvík is the biggest fishing village in the Faroe Islands and the second largest town in the country with around 5,000 people. People who belong to the fishing industry vary greatly in the types of jobs they have. Some are executive jobs, some are quality control jobs, and some are the "dirty jobs" — those actually out on the boats, dealing with the fish.

There are humongous fish farms in the Faroe Islands. There is one in Klaksvík for salmon that features 1.3 million fish! The company, Bakkafrost, exports the fish to the U.S., Russia, Poland and China. Another common way to fish involves large fishing vessels, sometimes owned locally and some from other countries like the Netherlands or Denmark, who go out with crews of 30-80 people. They fish for longer periods of time and also go on farther trips. Some trips are local, around the Faroe Islands, and some go much farther, such as up to Greenland or south to Mauritania. The trips can vary from two weeks to over three months.

I went out on a private fishing boat with three other fishermen and the father from the family that is so kindly letting me stay with them in Klaksvík (and spoiling me with amazing food!). The main purpose of the day was to collect bait for fishing at a later point: snails. Private fishing boats usually only go out on daily trips and even then, only when the weather is good.

We went out for around four hours. Josias, the man who was leading the fishing trip, said it usually takes him a lot longer because he is typically by his lonesome, but today he had three hands on deck to help out. The men alternated filling buckets with bait — fish heads — for the snails. Then, they would also pull up lines they had laid the week before. The boat was crawling with hermit crabs, urchins, snails and the occasional starfish.

Lastly, the boat pulled up a line of bait — called a stamp — that they had laid out to catch fish at the beginning of the excursion. At first it really didn't look too promising — about the first half of the line had no fish! But soon, the fish started flowing in and I think he ended up catching about 10 fish, all varied in types and sizes. Josias only expected to catch two or three, so I suppose we were fortunate!

There was everything from cod to haddock to the incredibly mean and ugly wolf fish. At the end of the trip, Josias surprisingly gave me and the family I'm staying with all of the fish! I'm not sure why, but I was super happy. I suppose his main goal of the day was for bait and he probably has enough fish at home as a fisher himself. I don't typically eat fish at home in the states, but fresh fish sure does make a difference (because fresh fish doesn't exactly exist when you don't live near the ocean). But I'm in love with Faroese fish! So delicious.

That night, Jóannes taught me how to filet and we fried up the wolf fish. And then Juliana made up frikadeller with the rest of the cod and haddock — a type of fish ball. The wolf fish was amazing, even if it was ugly, and the fish balls weren't too bad either. I have been eating way too well here in the Faroe Islands, though — it will be sad when I go back to Denmark and have to resort to skillet quesadillas and Ramen noodles again!

Tomorrow I will return to Denmark to finish the edit on my final project about the culture of the Faroe Islands. My deadline is Friday morning and then I have until Wednesday to say goodbye to all of my lovely international friends.