Minister of Fisheries Einar K. Gudfinnsson issued a 100,000-ton capelin quota yesterday, lifting a capelin moratorium which took effect February 21. The Iceland Marine Research Institute has located a 470,000-ton school of capelin in Icelandic waters.
“There is no doubt about the situation of the fish stock anymore. It underlines that we have been fishing it sensibly,” managing director of Síldarvinnslan fish processing company in Neskaupstadur, east Iceland, Gunnthór Ingvason, told Fréttabladid.
The school of capelin, located east of the Westman Islands, is very dense and local ship Sighvatur Bjarnason VE caught 1,100 tons in one go, which is the largest single catch the crew recalls. Other crews have similar stories to tell; at Huginn VE the fishing gear was torn by the weight of the fish.
The Marine Research Institute had proposed the capelin fishing ban because it had only found 200,000 to 207,000 tons of the fish in its previous research expeditions. At least 400,000 tons of capelin are needed to secure sustainability.
But since a larger stock had been expected and capelin is known as a capricious fish, the Marine Research Institute continued looking for it and on Tuesday night ichthyologists onboard the research vessel Árni Fridriksson managed to measure the size of the capelin school east of the Westman Islands; 470,000 tons, which justifies fishing.
For now, Minister Gudfinnsson has only issued a capelin quota of 100,000 tons, but not 121,000 tons like before the capelin moratorium. But the Marine Research Institute will continue looking for capelin in other parts of the country, and if those expeditions prove successful, the quota could be increased.
Click here to read about the capelin moratorium.