Shaping Up for A Second Season of Capelin Shortage

fisherman net

Research vessel Árni Friðriksson and four other ships returned from a 12-day expedition last Saturday, having found little sign of capelin in Icelandic waters. Expedition leader Birkir Bárðarson told Vísir he had never seen so little of the fish as on this trip.

Though another expedition is scheduled in February, it appears unlikely that the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute will recommend a capelin fishing quota this coming season. That would make 2020 the second year in a row that a capelin shortage hits the country.

Fisheries Minister Kristján Þór Júlíusson stated that a shortage would “impact the national economy and businesses and the communities in which they operate.” Experts have pointed to rising ocean temperatures as a possible cause for the decline in capelin stocks around Iceland. Kristján stated that the Icelandic government has allocated additional funding toward more research on the species.

A capelin shortage would prove a hard hit to communities around the country that rely on the fishing industry. The municipality of Fjarðarbyggð in East Iceland, for example, received and processed 47% of Iceland’s capelin catch in 2018. A shortage would mean wage decline and fewer jobs that would not only affect fishing companies but the local economy as a whole.

The effects of a capelin shortage are likely to stretch into the coming years. The majority of capelin, or 90%, spawn at the age of three years old, while around 10% spawn at the age of four. The fish then dies after spawning. This means that low numbers one year will generally mean low stocks three years later as well.

Off the Hook

Stöðvarfjörður East Iceland

Stöðvarfjörður, East Iceland is home to 181 people. In 2011, its old fish-processing plant, once the beating heart of the town, had fallen into disuse and was set to be demolished. That’s when a team of creatives with big ideas stepped in, acquiring the building at an auction for the give-away price of ISK 101,000 ($805/€731).
It’s the largest building in town. But it wasn’t even windproof. No electricity, no heating. Heaps of industrial waste were strewn all over its 2,800 sq m (30,100 sq ft) surface area, after years of labour and tonnes of fish. An immense task lay ahead of the team. Nowadays, there’s little fish to be found in the Fish Factory, but instead it has breathed a different kind of life into Stöðvarfjörður.

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Hildur Wins Grammy for Chernobyl

Hildur Guðnadóttir grammy award

Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir continued her winning streak last night in Los Angeles, taking home a Grammy award in the category of Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for the series Chernobyl. Hildur won an Emmy for the score in September, and was named Television Composer of the Year at the World Soundtrack Awards last October. Hildur is currently nominated for an Oscar for her film score for Joker.

Emmy win, Oscar and BAFTA nominations

The Chernobyl score was created using field recordings from a nuclear power plant. It beat out four other nominees in the category, including Alan Silvestri’s Avengers: Endgame, and Hans Zimmer’s score for The Lion King. Hildur’s statue collection could receive a couple more additions next month: she has been nominated for a BAFTA Award and an Oscar for her score for the acclaimed Joker. The BAFTAs will be presented on February 2 and the Oscars on February 9.

First solo Icelander to win a Grammy?

Only one Icelander has previously won a Grammy award: violinist Sigurbjörn Bernharðsson, who won as part of Pacifica Quartet for the group’s 2008 recording of Elliott Carter’s String Quartets No. 1 & 5. In 2018, both the band Kaleo and Hildur’s former collaborator Jóhann Jóhannsson were nominated for Grammy awards. Björk, unsurprisingly, also belongs to the group of Icelandic Grammy nominees – she holds the distinction of being the female artist with the most Grammy nominations without a win: 15.

Iceland Review interviewed Hildur about her work on both Joker and Chernobyl.


Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Hildur was the first Icelander to win a Grammy.

Possible Magma Accumulation on Reykjanes Peninsula

inflation volcanic activity reykjanes

Authorities have declared a state of uncertainty due to possible magma accumulation on the Reykjanes peninsula in Southwest Iceland. The aviation colour code has been raised to yellow for the region, which includes Keflavík International Airport. An earthquake swarm has been ongoing in the area and inflation has been detected in the last few days.

A statement from the Icelandic Met Office asserts that, while earthquake swarms are not unusual in the area, “[t]he fact that an inflation is occurring alongside the earthquake swarm is a cause for closer concern and closer monitoring.” The inflation is occurring just west of Þorbjörn mountain, near the town of Grindavík, and is unusually rapid, around 3-4 mm per day. It has accumulated to 2cm to date and is most likely a sign of magma accumulation at a depth of just a few kilometres. It is not certain that magma accumulation is causing the inflation, but if such is the case, then, according to the Met Office, “the accumulation is very small.”

A public community meeting will be held in Grindavík this afternoon at 4.00pm. There, the situation will be discussed with the Department of Civil Protection, scientists, and first responders. The Met Office has increased its 24/7 monitoring of the area.

This article will be updated throughout the day.