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Pole to Pole

Day 12: The Barents Sea

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleThe stern resembles a bowling alley along which the long green nets are wound out with a cacophonous crashing and clanging to fall 1500 feet to the sea-bed. It is an impressive and exciting display, and one wonders what mighty creatures of the deep demand such terrible power. The answer is, shrimp. The Jan Mayen, with her million-pound state-of-the-art bridge, her forty-strong crew, her trawling Datasyncro display and her 4080 horse-power Danish-built turbine engine, is nothing but a glorified shrimping net.

They have been shrimping round the clock for over a month and they do have 400 tons of the little red things aboard, and they do have a factory deck with processing facilities which can transfer the catch from sea-bed to freeze-pack in twenty-four hours, but somehow it all seems like overkill. Who eats that many shrimps? The answer, as in so many things, is the Japanese.

At eight in the morning, in the company of two coastguard inspectors, we watch the nets drawn in. Another magnificent display of technological expertise and human organization. Another three tons of shrimp.

At nine o'clock the Norsel totters alongside and we prepare once again to be swung out over the sea. Clutching our complimentary boxes, we are dangled down onto the deck like children returning from a school outing.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 12
  • Country/sea: Arctic Ocean
  • Place: Barents Sea
  • Book page no: 28

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