The Iceland Marine and Freshwater Research Institute suggests that capelin catch quotas for this winter will be 21,800 tonnes instead of their previous suggestion that no capelin be caught this year, for the second season in a row. The MFRI’s suggestion will be revised once the result of further counts is in.
Capelin stocks were assessed December 6-11, and the MFRI’s suggestions are based on that count. Last October, their suggestion was that no capelin be caught this year. The research vessels performing the count had good conditions although sea ice in the Greenland strait limited the count northwest of Iceland. The capelin west of Iceland was mostly adolescent, but the eastern part of the area under investigation had almost solely adult capelin.
The estimated size of the spawning stock was 487.4 tonnes. The Research Institute’s advice is based on the 95% chance that the spawning stock will be over 150,000 tonnes this spring with allowances for predation. They suggest a catch quota of 21,00 tonnes, replacing their earlier suggestion of no catch at all. That would have made the 2020/21 season the second season in a row with no capelin fishing. Due to the capelin’s breeding habits, stock size can fluctuate greatly between years.
The MFRI’s vessels will proceed with further stock counts in January and the quota suggestions will be revised on the grounds of the results. Capelin fishing is economically important for small towns outside the capital area. Last winter, Fisheries Minister Kristján Þór Júlíusson stated that a shortage would “impact the national economy and businesses and the communities in which they operate.”