Capelin distribution across the north of Iceland during the February survey. Image: Hafró

The initial results of a second capelin survey carried out earlier this month by research vessel Árni Friðriksson and four commercial pelagic vessels has produced disappointing conclusions.

The survey took place from 1st to 9th February and the indications are that there is a 250,00 tonne spawning stock, without taking predation into account.

The bulk of capelin identified was on the Kolbeinsey Ridge as well as to the north-west and north-east of Iceland.

According to the Marine Research Institute, this is significantly under the level that would be required for a quota to be advised. Roughly another 150,000 tonnes would be needed before this could become a possibility, although the Institute has stated that there are grounds for a third survey and Árni Friðriksson embarked on this on 11th February. Commercial vessels will join in once the weather improves.

Pelagic exports

Iceland’s pelagic exports in recent years. Capelin is in black

Iceland’s exports of pelagic production was worth ISK50 billion last year, almost the same as the previous year. This takes into account that there was no capelin season last year, but fluctuations in currency exchange rates pushed up values in ISK terms, alongside which there was a general increase in demand and prices for pelagic products. As a result, rising prices and a favourable exchange rate balanced out the roughly 16% downturn in export volumes that were largely due to last year’s capelin failing to show up.

Export values of capelin products last year came to ISK8.40 billion, due to sales of production from the previous season. As stockpiles have been largely exhausted, this situation won’t be repeated this year – so hopes are pinned on enough capelin being located for at least something of a 2020 capelin season.