A zero Barents Sea capelin fishery has been recommended by ICES for 2020. Image: HI

ICES recommendations on the Barents Sea capelin fishery were announced last week, stating that the stock is below the level needed to justify allowing a 2020 winter fishery to take place.

‘The Commission has adopted a rule for management of the capelin stock, and surveys show that it should not be fished for next year. The goal of Russia and Norway is for capelin to play an important role in the Barents Sea ecosystem first and foremost to provide food for other species. If we find that there is a surplus of capelin after the cod and other important species have taken what they need, it can be opened for fishing,’ said Bjarte Bogstad of the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, who is also a member of the ICES Advisory Committee (ACOM) and part of the Norwegian delegation attending the current meeting of the Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission.

During this autumn’s ecosystem survey, scientists measure the growing portion of the capelin stock which forms the basis for what will become spawning stock next spring. Then the researchers have to calculate how much cod and other species prey on capelin during the winter. During the survey, researchers assessed the maturing population at around 300,000 tonnes.

‘The lower limit for spawning stock is 200,000 tonnes. This time we are well below the limit to recommend quota,’ he said.

The spawning stock consists mostly of three and four year old capelin and he commented that the capelin stock is small this year, and that there is also little juvenile capelin.

‘The amount of one-year-old capelin in the autumn was the lowest we have measured since 1995. However, it was over the average with capelin spawn this year, so things do not look all that black,’ he said.