Poor weather and sea ice have disrupted two research vessels that are now searching for capelin north and west of Iceland, RÚV reports. Expedition leader Birkir Bárðarson, currently on one of the vessels, says some capelin has been spotted at the edge of the ice sheet by Greenland, but there is not enough data to make a full picture yet.
Iceland’s capelin stock has been in decline over the last two years, likely due to rising ocean temperatures. Declining stocks mean no fishing quotas as the capelin population is allowed to rebound and this has been particularly hard on the economy of East Iceland; where the municipality of Fjarðarbyggð, for example, received and processed 47% of Iceland’s capelin catch in 2018.
The ongoing expedition is carried out jointly by Iceland and Greenland. The ships set out on September 7 and have since crossed a large area from Southeast Greenland, eastward along Iceland’s north coast. Birkir says that there was no capelin to be found north of Iceland, but some were spotted along the East Greenland continental shelf.
The research vessels will continue their search northward along Greenland’s east coast. “There is no complete picture we can read yet,” Birkir stated. “But we’ve been seeing capelin here for the last few days.”