Marine researchers have advised a quota for Barents Sea Capelin of 196,000 tonnes in 2024. Photo: HI Norway
Marine researchers recommend a quota for capelin in the Barents Sea of 196,000 tonnes next year, a tripling the advice for the total allowable catch in 2023.
The quota will be set this week during the digital meeting of the Norwegian-Russian Joint Fisheries Commission and will see the recommended quota advice for 2024 more than a tripling of this year’s quota advice, which was 62,000 tonnes.
There were good recordings of capelin during the ecosystem survey in the Barents Sea. Therefore, Norwegian and Russian marine researchers believe that it is justifiable to fish up to 196,000 tonnes of capelin in 2024, as reported by the Institute of Marine Research today, Monday 16 October 2023.
The capelin fishery in the Barents Sea targets mature capelin, which migrates to the coast in the winter to spawn.
“The survey results show that it is the three-year-olds, i.e., the 2020-year class, that contribute the most to the maturing stock that can be harvested. At the same time, there are more four-year-olds than there have been since 1980, which also significantly contribute to the maturing stock,” says marine researcher Georg Skaret in the statement from the Institute of Marine Research. Skaret is a member of the Norwegian-Russian research group providing the quota advice.
Coverage in the Russian zone as well
The Norwegian-Russian ecosystem survey in the Barents Sea is the most important source of knowledge about the capelin stock.
“Last year, the amount of capelin in the Russian zone was unknown due to technical problems with the Russian vessel. The lack of coverage on the Russian side led to greater uncertainty, which was reflected in the advice given for 2023. This year, the Russians had good coverage, which provides a solid data basis for the quota advice,” explains Skaret.
Weak capelin growth last year
Capelin is a short-lived species, and its distribution varies significantly from year to year based on the size of the population, age composition, and temperature. The capelin stock has varied greatly over time but has been relatively stable since 2021.
Two years ago, the 2019-year class was the most numerous ever recorded. However, the weight and length of both this year class and the 2020-year class were among the lowest ever recorded last year.
“This year’s measurements also show low length and weight at age for 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds, indicating weak growth, likely due to competition for food,” says Skaret.
This week, Norway and Russia will hold a digital meeting of the Norwegian-Russian Joint Fisheries Commission. The capelin quota for next year will then be finally determined.