Capelin quota could be higher

Capelin quota could be higher HB Grandi’s Venus and sister vessel Víkingur have been switched to blue whiting following the announcement of the 2017-18 season capelin quota

Icelandic pelagic operators have reacted with disappointment at the capelin quota recommended by the Marine Research Institute following surveys carried out last month. The pelagic fleet has been fishing well on capelin since New Year and there had been hopes of a substantial boost on top of the provisional quota that was set in the autumn.

The Institute of Marine Research survey into the distribution of the capelin stock ended last week. According to the results, the capelin stock is estimated the same as in the autumn at 849,000 tonnes. In accordance with the catch regulation, a 285,000 tonne quota has been recommended for the season, or 14,000 tonnes less than last year. The increase on the provisional quota set in the autumn is 77,000 tonnes. Of this, 55,000 tonnes go to the Icelandic fleet.

“It’s obvious that the results of the Marine Research Institute survey are a big disappointment for us,” said Garðar Svavarsson, head of HB Grandi’s pelagic division. Both of the company’s pelagic vessels, Venus and Víkingur, have been fishing successful yon capelin through January, but both were pulled off the fishery due to the uncertainty around the remainder of the season.

“Both have now been switched to blue whiting. Right now there is no decision on how we are going to manage the rest of the capelin fishery,’ Garðar Svavarsson said, commenting that he had hoped to see the Institute’s promising autumn survey confirmed with some similar winter survey figures.

The Marine Research Institute went over the estimated capelin distribution area twice and took readings at chosen points. There was no appreciable difference between three sets of figures and the stock size was estimated at 849,000 tonnes. What takes us by surprise is that after three surveys with similar results, the error margin should be so high that a quota of only 285,000 tonnes should be set.”

According to Garðar Svavarsson, vessel operators are with the scientists in obtaining the best possible estimate of the capelin stock and ensuring that the resource is sustainably exploited.

“However, there needs to be a serious conversation about whether or not the current catch regulation is the best tool to ensure that maximum revenue in a responsible manner. I expect that this conversation will take place in the coming months. Right now our priority is to go over the available options with the Marine Research Institute. We are convinced that there is every reason to allow more fishing on capelin, although that kind of decision will only be taken if the results of further surveys indicate that there are grounds for this,” Garðar Svavarsson said.

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