Monkfish might not win a beauty prize but its popularity has risen since years ago when it was usually thrown overboard. Its value is increasingly important to the Icelandic economy, according to mbl.is.
Icelandic fishing boats. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
For a while, monkfish was generally caught in lobster trawls in the warm ocean off of South Iceland. With the ocean’s increasing temperatures, it has spread considerably and is now caught along all of South and West Iceland, the West being particularly fruitful last year. Monkfish also regularly are caught in nets on the coast of North Iceland.
Last year, three thousand tons of monkfish was the fishing limit and the catch superseded that considerably. This year, only 2,500 tons are allowed and this is consistent with the advice of The Marine Research Institute.
Ichthyologist Einar Jónsson has researched monkfish for a long time and followed its expansion off Iceland’s shores. He says that it wouldn’t have been wise to allow a greater catch than 2,500 tons. A large part of the catch is relatively small monkfish, and not yet pubescent.
Jónsson finds it unrealistic to hope that the monkfish stock off the coast of Iceland will grow and improbable that the catch will be 2,500 tons at average despite a rise in the stock in the past few years.
When a quota was put on monkfish in the fishing season of 2003-4 the maximum catch was 1,500 tons, but the catch superseded 3,000 tons for the first time last year. Ships setting out from Snaefellsnes Peninsula caught the highest amount of monkfish last year.