Likely Capelin Discovery Reported Southwest of Iceland

iceland fishing

Marine researchers have discovered what they believe to be a significant quantity of capelin southwest of the country, amid challenging weather conditions. Further investigations and sampling are planned to confirm the findings.

Challenging weather conditions

Vessels from the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute discovered yesterday what is believed to be a significant quantity of capelin southwest of Iceland. 

In an interview with RÚV this morning, Guðmundur J. Óskarsson, Head of the Pelagic Division at the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute, stated that the search for capelin was somewhat complicated by challenging weather conditions. Pelagic fishing vessels, fishing for blue whiting, were enlisted to assist with the search yesterday and found what is believed to be a considerable quantity of capelin.  

Two ships have since been directed to the site to conduct further measurements. “We cannot confirm that it is capelin; it could possibly be herring, but we believe it is most likely capelin,” Guðmundur stated, adding that a closer examination of the site was planned for today. 

Very little capelin detected

The Marine & Freshwater Research Institute reported on Monday, February 12, that very little capelin had been detected in February. This was the second capelin measurement of the year. As noted by RÚV, there have been significant fluctuations in capelin measurements in recent years: “We are continuously conducting research, but what is most difficult to understand is what is affecting the variability in the recruitment of the stock,” Guðmundur told RÚV this morning.

“We have to examine this more closely. The research vessel Bjarni Sæmundsson is conducting marine research to the east, but the crew will be called to this task now; we need to ascertain whether or not this is capelin and obtain samples,” Guðmundur concluded by saying.

One of the most important commercial stocks in Iceland

As noted in an article in Iceland Review in 2021, capelin is one of the most important commercial fish stocks in Iceland, accounting for around 13% of export earnings. “Only cod brings in more, and it bears pointing out that cod is also dependent on capelin, which may account for up to 40% of its total food,” the article notes.

Read More: Net Profit (On Capelin in Iceland)

In recent times, stocks of capelin in Icelandic waters have been volatile, which has made it difficult to predict or plan fishing seasons. The fish have a short life cycle, procreating only once before their ultimate demise, which makes the stock vulnerable to overfishing and changes in the marine environment.