Capelin Catch Quotas Raised Three Times Skip to content
Photo: Fishing boats moored to the dock in Sauðárkrókur.

Capelin Catch Quotas Raised Three Times

Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) has raised its capelin catch quota for the 2020-2021 season, advising that catch should not exceed 61,000 tonnes. MFRI originally issued a catch limit of 21,800 tonnes in December, then raising it to 54,200 tonnes on January 22. The quota was raised a third time on January 24, to 61,000 tonnes, after a mistake in the calculations of capelin stock sizes was discovered. Fishing and processing of capelin is a key pillar of industry in many small communities across Iceland.

Iceland’s capelin stock was assessed to be in decline over the last two years, a development experts have linked to rising ocean temperatures. No capelin quota was given out in 2019 after stocks were found to be too low. In South Iceland’s Westman Islands, that decision that impacted 350 employees directly and led to a loss of wages of at least ISK 1 billion ($7.9m/€7.25m). Several other communities in Iceland rely on capelin: in East Iceland, the municipality of Fjarðarbyggð received and processed 47% of Iceland’s capelin catch in 2018.

The results of one expedition in December and two in January have given an estimate that mature capelin (those capable of spawning) will exceed 150,000 tonnes in March 2021, taking into account predation. Together, the measurements reduce uncertainty in stock assessments, leading to the MFRI’s current catch quota of 61,000 tonnes.

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