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Capelin

5-Capelin-(D)-Capelin_male_and_female--(copyright-Jon_B_H)

Capelin, male above, female below

Illustration: Jón Baldur Hlíðberg

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Capelin fishing grounds in 20010/11 fishing season (t/nm2), all gear combined, dark areas indicate highest catches

Source: The Marine Research Institute

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Capelin catch (t) in Icelandic waters

Source: ICES, Statistics Iceland

5-capelin-(g)-capelin-catch-by-month-(statice-&-directorate-of-fisheries)

Capelin catch (t) by month

Source: Statistics Iceland, weigh treports

5-capelin-(g)-biomass-and-fishing-mortality-(hafro)

Biomass (thous. t) of the fishable capelin stock at the beginning of the fishing season (January 1st) and the remaining spawning stock

Source: The Marine Research Institute

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Capelin catch (t) by fishing gear

Source: Statistics Iceland, weight reports

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Capelin catch (t) by type of processing

Source: Statistics Iceland, processing reports

5-capelin-(g)-capelin-exports-by-country-last-year-(statice)

Value of exported capelin products by main countries in 2008 (FOB million ISK)

Source: Statistics Iceland

Scientific: Mallotus villosus. English: Capelin. Icelandic: Loðna. For more languages see the Marine Animal Dictionary.

Biology and distribution

The capelin is possibly the most ecologically important fish in Icelandic waters. It is a small pelagic fish, usually between 15 and 18 cm in catches and has a very short life cycle. It spawns in late winter along the south and southwest coast of Iceland at ocean temperatures of 4°-7°C. The eggs and larvae drift north to the continental shelf of North Iceland or Greenland. It gradually migrates further north as it grows and spends the time before maturity feeding in the Iceland Sea on zooplankton, mainly copepods. Maturity is usually reached at the age of 3, but some become mature one year earlier or later. At this time they condense into large schools and migrate around Iceland, usually clockwise to the spawning grounds in the south. During these migrations the capelin becomes the main food of many species in Icelandic waters, most importantly the cod. Spawning takes place in very shallow waters and is a very intense behavior. After spawning all the males and most of the females die.

Except for the need to spawn in relatively warm waters, the capelin is a pure cold-water species. It is found in the North Atlantic from Newfoundland and Greenland in the west to the Barents Sea and along northern Russia in the east. It also occurs in the North Pacific.

Capelin has a key role in the food chain between animal plankton and larger fish. Most groundfish species, feed on capelin at some stage in their life and it is estimated that capelin may be 40% of the total food of cod. As the stock of capelin migrates to the southwest coast of Iceland in March for spawning it meets a large number of cod, ready for the feast.

Catch and fishing gear

After the collapse of the herring stocks, the Icelandic pelagic fleet changed to capelin, which had been virtually ignored before. The capelin fishery was the most important pelagic fishery until 2004 when the value of herring catches again surpassed the capelin. However, these are mostly the same boats fishing all the pelagic species with purse seines or more recently pelagic trawls.

The capelin stock has often sustained a catch of more than 1 million t annually since 1978, often as much catch as all other species combined. The highest catches were in 1996 and 1997, about 1.5 million tones. The stock migrates to Greenlandic and Norwegian waters close to Jan Mayen, and therefore it is managed by agreement between these nations. Commonly there are two fishing seasons; the main winter season in January-April, fishing mainly 3-4 year old capelin and the summer season in the second half of the year for 2-3 year old capelin. The majority of the catch has been from the winter season in the past few years.

The capelin fisheries are managed by a simple catch rule The Marine Research Institute, often in cooperation with fishing boats, assesses the size of the spawning stock with acoustic methods. Fisheries are then allowed if more than 400 thousand t of mature fish are found, if not the fishery is closed for that season. If more than 400 thousand t are found the quota is set to the amount exceeding 400 thousand t. As an example, if the spawning stock is measured at 600 thousand t, the quota is set to 200 thousand t. This is to ensure that the spawning stock will not be compromised and enough is left behind as important food for other marine animals.

Stock status

See the Marine Research institute

Processing and markets

Most of the capelin catches goes to reduction, that is for fish meal and oil. The meal is used as feed for domestic animals and in aquaculture and the oil for various food or industrial products. Part of the catch is frozen at sea, or after landing, and processed into human food. The roe is the most valuable part of the capelin, but prizes are fluctuating and markets have been unpredictable.


г.Мурманск
пр. Ленина 31-18

факс: (8152)25 42 80

телефоны: (8152) 25-44-71,
25-67-69, 25-67-33

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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