norwegian iceland capelin mscThe ICES has announced quota advice for capelin in the Barents Sea for 2022, with a total allowable catch of of 70,000 tonnes recommended

The Norwegian fishing industry has welcomed the news that the capelin fishery off Iceland can now be traded as MSC-certified

The Norwegian Fishermen’s Association (Fiskarlaget) and Norges Sildesalgslag has welcomed the news that the capelin fishery off Iceland can now be traded as MSC-certified. 

“This is important for turnover and is therefore important for the fleet,” says senior adviser Tor Bjørklund Larsen in the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association.

Large parts of the Norwegian purse-seine fleet are currently preparing to participate in capelin fishing in the Icelandic economic zone. Prior to this, Fiskarlaget, as the Norwegian client manager for MSC, has just signed an agreement with Icelandic Sustainable Fisheries (ISF) which makes it possible for Norwegian fishermen to sell the catch as MSC-certified.

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“Norges Sildesalgslag is very pleased that we in collaboration with Norges Fiskarlag have been included in the MSC certification for capelin from Iceland through Iceland Sustainable Fisheries,” says sales director Knut Torgnes in Sildelaget and adds that the MSC certification has an impact on the price picture and demand for solder in some of the highest paid markets.

“Now it is important that the industry uses the certificate for landings of capelin from Iceland when the Norwegian vessels soon start their fishing over there,” says Torgnes.

About the certification

Capelin caught in Icelandic waters are MSC-certified through Icelandic Sustainable Fisheries for their Icelandic members.

However, an MSC certificate is “private property”, which applies to the player who has invested in the certification process. This means that even though Norwegian vessels that have participated in this fishery have so far fished up to their Icelandic colleagues with similar gear on environmental footprints, the capelin that Norwegian vessels have landed have not been considered MSC-certified.

This has now changed, after 11 January when Fiskarlaget signed an agreement on certificate sharing with ISF.

“We are pleased to have clarifications in place and that Norwegian vessels participating in the fishery are now part of the Icelandic certificate that has certificate number MSC-F-31299,” says Tor Bjørklund Larsen.

He states that the agreement between Fiskarlaget, as Norwegian client manager and ISF has a duration of five years.

On the capelin front the Icelandic fleet has fished well over 100,000 tonnes, and the first Norwegian boats has set course for the capelin field in Iceland.

Norges Sildesalgslag reports:

The Icelanders started their capelin fishing already at the beginning of November and they have now fished more than 100,000 tonnes of the quota of 662,064 tonnes.
Fishing after the New Year was the first days hampered by storms. In the last week, the entire fleet has been working in the area north of Langanes. The catch from here has been uneven, where some days there has been good gathering and good weather conditions. The Icelandic boats have only fished with trawls and trawl halls of up to 1,000 tonnes are reported. From the skippers of these boats, they report that the capelin stays deep during the day, and in a thin veil at night when it rises higher in the sea.

Of the quantity that has been fished so far, everything has been used for the production of fishmeal and fish oil. When it comes to the size of the capelin, Icelanders report common size of around 44 pcs/kg and of 50 pcs/kg. This is based on few samples, and somewhat less than what we received at the start of Norwegian fishing last year.

For the Norwegian boats, the quota is set at a record high of 145,382 tonnes, and it is the purse-seine boats that have rights in this fishing. Late Wednesday night, “Andrea L” announced as the first boat sailing to the capelin in Iceland.

Last year, Norwegian boats fished just over 42,000 tonnes. Due to a hungry and “dried up” capelin market, the total value for Norwegian fishermen was over 600 million (€60.5m/£50.5m), which gave a historically high average price of NOK 14.35 (€1.45/£1.21).

It will be exciting to follow capelin fishing in the future where Norwegian boats can fish in the Icelandic zone until 22 February. The Norwegian boats must fish north of N 64-30 ‘and there can be 30 active boats fishing at the same time.

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