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Feeding on capelin, surface temperature up to 8.30°C

News on HB Grandi’s website on Monday this week that mackerel are feeding on capelin has attracted a much interest as there’s a great deal at stake here. It is clear that there is mackerel in huge amounts in waters all around Iceland. The capelin stock has been  at a low point and last year’s fishery was virtually nil. If it is true that mackerel are preying on capelin, then the future of Iceland’s capelin fishery could be in serious doubt.

State radio news covered the subject yesterday, leading on from the news item from HB Grandi’s web site. This included an interview with Marine Research Institute fisheries scientist Sveinn Sveinbjörnsson who commented that the news came as a surprise as capelin are an arctic species that keep to cold waters, while mackerel are a warm water fish that rarely venture into temperatures lower than 8 to 9°C. Mackerel do make their way into colder waters, but Sveinn Sveinbjörnsson said that they are unlikely to stay there for long. As mackerel have not been present in Icelandic waters in significant volume before 2007, little is known about its patterns of behaviour. Sveinn Sveinbjörnsson commented that scientists and fishermen need to help each other out in researching this.

‘I would be grateful if those vessels that run across capelin of mackerel could send us samples, along with information on position and sea temperature there,’ Sveinn Sveinbjörnsson said during the radio interview.

We can add that the crew of Lundey NS, who were the first to notice the interplay between mackerel and capelin, were quick to reply via email to the company’s operations manager that water temperature where they had seen mackerel was 8.30°C, according to the ship’s sensors and other vessels had seen similar readings in the same area.