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Watching the capelin grounds

A careful watch is being kept over all of the south coast shallows for any signs of a capelin migration in any volume. So far it has still not been possible to determine if there is sufficient capelin on fishing grounds for scientists to confirm that an initial quota can be issued. Fishing so far has been on the basis of the 15,000 tonne research quota that the Ministry authorised last week.

Lundey NS took part in the capelin search last week. According to HB Grandi’s pelagic division head, Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson, Lundey will be heading back to fishing grounds tonight with a specialist from the Marine research Institute on board. He has been monitoring capelin shoals before and after fishing. This is done to allow an estimate of the density of each shoal to be made. There has been a great deal of debate between skippers over this and the indices used by the Marine Research Institute in its measurement procedures.

According to Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson, Faxi RE and Ingunn AK are now also ready to take part in the capelin search, with each vessel scheduled to spend two days at a time on this. HB Grandi’s share of the research quota is 2800 tonnes and the company has to contribute 6.50 days to the search.

At a meeting yesterday between the Marine Research Institute and the Icelandic Federation of Fishing Vessel Owners it was decided that research vessel Árni Fridriksson would finish its present search patterns and then proceed westwards along the shelf towards the Westmann Islands. This leaves the ship ready for further research, while the pelagic vessels concentrate on keeping watch on the shallows.

‘Last year there was a ban on capelin fishing on the 21st of February, which was lifted on the 27th after the migration made it´s way up into the shallows. So it’s still far too early to write off the capelin season this year,’ said Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson.

Kap VE is watching the Westfjords grounds, where a capelin migration can be seen later than a migration along the east coast. It attracted attention that capelin that were caught in shallow waters last week had a 20% roe content. This indicates that the fish are around two weeks ahead of their usual development cycle, which means that the capelin roe season could begin at any moment.