The Norwegian Director of Fisheries has decided to abolish the maximum quotas in the purse seine group's fishing for capelin off Iceland

The Norwegian Director of Fisheries has decided to abolish the maximum quotas in the purse-seine group’s fishing for capelin off Iceland. Photo: Norges Sildesalgslag

The Norwegian Director of Fisheries has decided to abolish the maximum quotas in the purse seine group’s fishing for capelin off Iceland, Greenland and Jan Mayen. Fishing is thus free from Sunday.

On Monday morning, just over 80,000 tonnes of the Norwegian quota of 145,382 tonnes of capelin were fished. This leaves around 65,206 tonnes before the Norwegian fishery ends on tomorrow.

A mixture of poor weather conditions and restrictive fishing have hamstrung the fleet which will leave an estimated 60,000 tonnes of capelin left uncaught.

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The Norwegian fleet had complained to their Minister of Fisheries and Marine Affairs Bjørnar Skjæran, about the restrictions their boats were faced with when fishing in the Icelandic EEZ, which included being restricted to using purse-seine gear when other boats from the Faroes, Greenland and Iceland itself were allowed to trawl for the fish, and also being restrict to where they could carry out fishing operations.

The Norwegian Minister had forwarded his fishermen’s concerns and asked for a time extension on their fishing period past Tuesday 22 February but was met with a cold ‘no’ from the Icelandic Government. A request to increase the number of fishing vessels that Norway had fishing in the Icelandic EEZ was also rejected and the Minister was told that in no uncertain terms that the numbers would remain at 30 vessels.

The Icelandic response was:

“The current Framework Agreement between Greenland/Denmark, Iceland and Norway on the conservation and management of capelin is from 2018. The parties meet annually for a coastal State consultation and adopt an Agreed Record for each fishing season. This agreement also has bilateral annexes between the parties and Annex III describes the measures for access and technical conditions in the capelin fisheries between Iceland and Norway. Different annexes have different elements. Technical conditions for Greenlandic and Faroese vessels in the capelin fisheries are subject to bilateral agreements between Iceland and Greenland and Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

“During the last consultations, which were held in September 2021, no request for changes to this annex were brought forward by the Norwegian delegation.

“It is the view of Iceland, that appropriate timing for discussions and potential changes to the annexes, is when the annual consultation take place, but not during the fishing season. During the meeting in September 2021, Iceland already indicated to Norway the wish to discuss certain elements of the bilateral annex between Iceland and Norway during the coastal State meeting prior to the fishing season 2022-2023 and therefor, allowing for one-year consideration period for Norway.

“The TAC for the 2021-2022 capelin season was announced on 1 October 2021 and fishery has been open in the economic zones of the parties from 15 October 2021, including access for foreign vessels in the exclusive economic zone of Iceland.”

Now with a matter of hours left, the Norwegian Director of Fisheries has announced that the 30 Norwegian vessel in the fishery off Iceland have had their quota restrictions lifted. This means that every boat present will be able to fish past their allocated quotas if they can catch the capelin.

by Oliver McBride

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Norwegian Director of Fisheries announces free capelin fishing off Iceland

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