Daniel Lauritzen and his boat Tinder have won the 2021 “Fisher of the Year” award for fishing excellence. He also supplies Lerøy Norway Seafoods factory in Kjøllefjord all year round.
“It came completely out of the blue! I’m glad people notice that I try to go the extra mile, but I think everyone should do that”, says Daniel.
Each year, the industry is invited to nominate candidates, and this year the competition was particularly fierce, with a record number of people being nominated. In spite of that, Daniel stood out as the fisher who achieved the highest quality, which meant that he was named “Fisher of the Year”.
“The fact that he opts for longline fishing, although it is both more time-consuming and more expensive, shows that he invests a lot of effort into delivering high-quality seafood”, says Synne Guldbrandsen, a member of the jury who is also the Marketing Director of the Norwegian Fishermen’s sales organisation.
In 2019, Daniel acquired the fishing vessel Tinder. While many other fishers choose boats that make fishing simple and economic, Tinder was only rigged for longline fishing.
“I have chosen longlining because it makes it easier to ensure high quality. It requires a bit of effort, and it’s much more expensive than using gillnets, which are cheap to operate, but it improves the quality”, says Daniel.
Longlining causes less damage to fish, as they only get a hook in their mouth, and it avoids the risk of marks caused by handling during capture.
As well as being rigged for longlining, Tinder has received a lot of attention on account of its name. Daniel explains that everyone thinks it is named after the dating app, but he can reveal that is not the case. Like all other boats, it needed to have a name, which is easier said than done.
“It’s harder to think of a name for a boat than for your own children. I had come up with a different name, but then I decided it was far too boring”, he says.
Boats with names that end in -tind are fairly common in Norway, such as Striptind and Ørntind. That gave the idea for Tinder, which is the plural of Tind. He likes the name better and better, and judging by the interest it has generated, many people agree.
He was given his prize, together with cake and a surprise party, at Lerøy’s factory in Kjøllefjord. In the canteen, he was joined by the factory employees, fellow fishers, family, the local mayor Sigurd Kvammen Rafaelsen and Synne of the Norwegian Fishermen’s sales organisation, who handed over the prize.
“This is one of the most prestigious awards a fisher can get, and it is a big recognition of what you do”, she said when she handed over the prize to Daniel.
Daniel agrees completely. The prize and the surprise party were indeed a surprise, while the victory was made public at the Norwegian Seafood Council’s codfish conference. During the official award ceremony, Minister of Fisheries Bjørnar Skjæran was full of praise for this year’s winner, mentioning that he is “one of the few fishers to have met the exacting standards of Lerøy’s quality mark ‘Arctic Supreme’”.
In spite of making off with this coveted award, Daniel doesn’t have the longest track record in the industry. It was only in 2008 that chance led to him embarking on this career. When the financial crisis struck, like many other people he was made redundant. In his case, from his job as a car mechanic. He started looking for a new job, and he asked his mate Tor Petter if he could get a job with him.
“He just asked me when I could start”, says Daniel, laughing.
Tor Petter had a similar boat to Tinder, and his way of fishing has since inspired Daniel, who gives his friend a lot of the credit for his own approach to fishing.
“I was trained to look after the world’s best food product, and I always say that I don’t want to deliver anything that I wouldn’t eat myself.”
Ever since he started out he has been delivering fish and king crab to the factory in Kjøllefjord, and he has no plans to stop doing that. Which the factory is very grateful for.
“He is a fantastic ambassador for the fishing industry, who really makes a real effort to raise quality. He really deserved to win the prize this year”, says Raimo Sørensen, the manager of the Kjøllefjord factory.
Runs in the family
Kjøllefjord is a fishing village, so fishing has always been a part of Daniel’s life, and both his father and grandfather were fishers. When Daniel became a fisher, his dad was working in the aquaculture industry, but he soon returned to fishing. Raimo has previously nominated both Daniel and his father for the “Fisher of the Year” award. He says it is clear that good attitudes have been handed down the generations, and that they are both great representatives of local fishing culture.
“Daniel tells his fellow fishers what they should do to achieve high quality, and we have noticed that makes a real difference”, says Raimo.
His advocacy for the importance of high quality was also highlighted as one of the reasons for him walking off with the prize for “Fisher of the Year”.