Iceland halts capelin fishing

Acting on the advice of Iceland’s Marine Research Institute (MRI), Einar K. Gudfinnsson, Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries, recently declared a sudden halt to all capelin fishing. The MRI believes that stocks of the fish have dwindled to point where fishing must be stopped, according to a report from

Gudfinnsson said, “This is an immense shock for the entire society, the companies, the fishermen, fish processors and the communities that depend on capelin the most. But we had no other option because only a small number of capelin has been found.”

Concern over dwindling fish stocks led to a similar cut in cod quotas six months ago. Both announcements were met with dismay by the Icelandic fishing industry which is facing serious challenges this year.

According to Glitnir Bank, the decision will not only affect fishermen, but also the as a whole.

The MRI said that a school count of 400,000 capelin is required in order to make fishing sustainable. Unfortunately the Institute’s ships have only counted somewhere between 200,000 and 270,000 fish since early January, leading them to believe that fishing cannot continue in a sustainable manner.

Thorsteinn Sigurdsson, who directs the Institute’s pelagic division, said: “We have no explanation for why the capelin isn’t reproducing. The numbers of young capelin the year before last indicated that we would see many more adult fish now.”

In 2002, the export of Icelandic capelin generated €200 million. The fish is used for fish meal, oil industry products, salmon feed and for human consumption. Capelin roe is a sought after product, particularly in Asia, where it is believed to act as an aphrodisiac.


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