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Mackerel stuffed with capelin

Fishing on herring over the weekend has been very good on an area about 100 nautical miles north of Melrakkaslétta. HB Grandi’s pelagic vessels were fishing there and according to pelagic operations manager Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson, there is plenty of life there; herring, mackerel, capelin and a large number of fin whales.

Faxi RE and Lundey NS, which have been fishing as a pair team, docked on Friday evening to discharge on Friday evening with a total of 2450 tonnes. They were back on fishing grounds by Saturday evening and had hauled 1700 tonnes by midnight. Ingunn AK and Thorsteinn ThH have been trawling together and both had filled up by midday yesterday. Discharging began this morning on Ingunn’s 2000 tonne catch.

Skippers have noticed that the mackerel that they are catching in small amounts as a bycatch with the herring are stuffed with either capelin or herring. One of Faxi RE’s engineers blogged about this during the last trip.

‘We have looked at the contents of mackerel stomachs carefully after both of this trip’s hauls. Last night a large proportion of mackerel had capelin in their stomachs, as well as a few herring scales. Today there weren’t so many with capelin in the stomach, but some had as many as three half-digested capelin in there. Most also had pelagic shrimp and herring scales among the stomach contents. It’s very common to see herring scales in the mackerel stomachs and this begs a few questions. Yesterday this appeared to be undigested and the question is whether mackerel are eating these in the trawl, or whether mackerel are preying on herring. Of course, this is based on only a small number of samples, and to get a better picture, this would need to be studied more carefully. But in general there needs to be more research into mackerel.’

It’s certainly clear that more effort needs to be directed at examining the mackerel stock. It’s also a serious situation if mackerel are consuming two-year capelin in large amounts, as this is the year class that next season’s fishery will depend on.