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Significant decrease in capelin quota but production for human consumption went well

The HB Grandi fleet’s capelin catch for this season came to approximately 24,000 tonnes, which is something of a disappointment compared to the previous season’s 86,000 tonne catch. The reason is a smaller overall quota than last year. There were hopes of successful fishing on a western migration that was apparent off the Ísafjördur Deeps towards the end of the season, but the Marine Research Institute’s findings were that there was not enough capelin there to justify an increase in quota.

According to Gardar Svavarsson who heads HB Grandi’s pelagic division, the company’s fleet started fishing on the 11th of January and had finished its quotas two months later.

‘As usual, we put a great deal of emphasis on utilising landings for human consumption as far as possible. We whole froze fish for the Russian and Japanese markets, and processed capelin roe for customers in Eastern Europe and Asia,’ Gardar Svavarsson said.

Capelin moving fast

Albert Sveinsson, skipper of Faxi RE, said that it’s never possible to rely on anything in the capelin fishery, adding that this season had been an unusually difficult one with a small quota and long spells of bad weather had not helped.

‘What was a surprise was how dispersed the capelin were along the coast, how fast the capelin moved once they were off the south-east and how the season petered out at the end. We started fishing off the north coast in January, further west than usual. The trawl box had been expanded westwards and we started fishing east of the Kolbeinsey Ridge. Some of the capelin went into the trawl box, but it’s clear that some of the capelin passed through shallow water south of the box and loose along the coast. East of Vopnafjördur the migration vanished and there was no fishing off the east coast. It wasn’t until the fish were west of Ingólfshöfdi that we could find the capelin again and a few of the vessels had some fishing around the Hrollaugs Islands area,’ Albert Sveinsson said, and added that the capelin then moved unbelievably fast westwards along the coast.

‘There had been endless easterly winds and what occurs to me is that there had been a strong current running along the coast. The capelin were west of Reykjanes and into Faxa Bay in no time at all. We had our first roe trip off Malarrif south of Snæfellsnes and there were capelin marks everywhere. The next time we were off Öndverdarnes and the capelin were quick to spread themselves out. We finished off our season off the Ísafjördur Deeps and the Nes Deeps. There were some good marks and decent shoals of fish, but then the quota was finished. From what I’ve heard from the skippers who were able to continue fishing, the fish south of Snæfellsnes was nothing like in previous years. Even though the fish had finished spawning, the fleet could have caught more of the male fish for a while once the spawning was over, but that didn’t work out this year,’ he said.

Blue whiting about to start

The capelin season came to an end on the 10th of March and there has been very little fishing since then. Pelagic operators are already preparing for the blue whiting season. Ingunn AK is due to sail tonight and Lundey NS and Faxi RE are expected to follow in the next few days. Blue whiting fishing is taking place around 250 nautical miles west of Ireland and catches have been good in recent weeks.