You’d be right in thinking that we have had a brilliant week in Grimsey, from the filming point of view, it was a total success, great birdlife, great scenics, and we’ve cracked the back of 3 sequences in the film, (Egg collecting being the main one, but there will be a few surprises in store for when the film is broadcast next year).
The people here have been wonderful, helpful, kind and always with a smile on their faces. We had a brilliant evening in the community centre, attending a fundraising auction in aid of the school trip (11 pupils off to Estonia). Siggi (our colourful egg collector) did his best to outbid me but I beat him to it in the end, and the end result was delicious, I couldn’t possibly reveal the exact price due to the data protection act, but the mortgage company should be happy.
Its worth mentioning the prime reason that the 100 strong community stay here for, which is of course the fishing. Now those with a historical bent (or old enough) will know that Iceland has been fiercely protective about its fishing grounds over the years – in fact a british trawler was nearly sunk off Grimsey back in the cod wars of the seventies. This protective approach has served both them and the fishing grounds well over the years, the cold, rich arctic waters have an abundance of fish, and the fishermen are very careful not to abuse the fish stocks (unlike some european countries), giving them a sustainable harvest year on year.
True, some things are changing, the waters are getting warmer (climate change and a 30 year Atlantic temperature cycle) mean that some species are changing their habits – the capelin have moved further north and now the mackerel are turning up more frequently (cue the Mackerel Wars on the horizon!). But in the meantime the small fishing community here, that know their waters so intimately, enjoy a bountiful year round harvest from the sea. But boy do they have to work for it, fishing from small boats in the Arctic Ocean is hard dangerous work, and many fishermen have lost their lives to bring in the harvest.
The Cod, Haddock, Coal fish and Orange Roughy arrive, usually around lunchtime, to the little harbour, the boats having left very early in the morning. Then they are whisked away to either the salting and drying sheds, to be prepared as Baccalao – salt cod, for export to the profitable european market. Or gutted, iced and sent to market on the mainland. Fresher fish you cannot imagine.
So, we leave Grimsey with happy hearts and a salute to the islanders that made us so welcome, its been an honour to meet you all. we’ll be back here in July to cover another couple of interesting stories up here on Grimsey, we can’t wait!