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05.07.2009

Two year capelin off the north coast and mackerel on the surface off the west

Heavy capelin shoals off the north coast and mackerel seen on the surface off the west coast have to be seen as positive signs for Iceland’s seafood industry. Both have been seen recently, according to HB Grandi’s pelagic operations manager Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson.

‘We have heard that Faroese pelagic vessel Nordborg has been searching for herring off the north of Iceland inside our EEZ. There is plenty of herring over a wide area, but very dispersed and not much of it in catchable amounts. But the good news is that they came across several strong capelin shoals. Samples indicate that this is two-year capelin, which is the year class that is expected to form the basis of the next season’s fishing,’ said Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson and commented that there is also a great deal of optimism over reports of strong mackerel migrations to the west of Iceland.

‘We heard from Birgir Stefánsson on Hvalur 9 that the crew has been aware of large volumes of mackerel to the west, from close inshore al the way to deep waters. Pelagic trawling is banned in that area, so there isn’t much chance of seeing this fish in trawls, but we have heard that the small boat men have been getting mackerel on jigging lines off Hellnanes,’ said Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson.

We contacted fisheries scientist Gudmundur Óskarsson at the Marine Research Institute and asked if they had received reports capelin in the north and mackerel in the west. He replied by saying that these reports had not come to him personally but expected that they had reached his colleague Thorsteinn Sigurdsson. He also commented that they had already received reports of pelagic species on the surface off Breidafjördur and Faxaflói.

‘We are starting a herring research cruise on Bjarni Sæmundsson RE, mainly to investigate Icelandic summer spawning herring. Reports of fish on the surface were initially believed to be herring, but this could just as well be mackerel. This will all be investigated shortly but the next planned capelin survey will not be until November.’

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