Iceland's capelin season begins a month early –

Iceland’s capelin season begins a month early Published:  09 December, 2010

ICELAND’S pelagic trawler fleet has started hunting for capelin a month earlier than normal thanks to a healthy spawning stock.

Although not seen much in the UK or Western Europe, capelin is a big money earner for the Icelandic industry, generating up to £60 million a year and makes an important contribution to the cash flow of those trawler companies with pelagic vessels. Capelin is used for fish meal, oil industry products, salmon feed and, most importantly, for human consumption. Capelin roe is a sought after product, particularly in Eastern Europe and Asia, where it is believed to act as an aphrodisiac.

The fishing company HB Grandi said the results of work by the Marine Research Institute this autumn indicated a capelin spawning stock of 630,000 tonnes. On this basis, the Institute has recommended an initial quota of 200,000 tonnes, on the principle that the spawning stock needs to be a minimum of 400,000 tonnes.Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson, head of HB Grandi’s pelagic division, has welcomed the Institute’s findings and said that there are plenty of hopes pinned to the possibility of a further quota following more research in the New Year.

Two of  the company’s vessels, Ingunn AK and Faxi RE, have already sailed for the capelin grounds and one of them has returned catches to port  for processing and freezing. In the last few days the Ingunn had 600 tonnes on board while Faxi had been unfortunate enough to damage its purse seine and the crew spent the night working on repairs. The capelin season usually ends around February or March when the fleet switches to blue whiting.