The Norwegian boats fishing capelin in the Barents sea report good catches in week 10 of 2023. Photo: Norges Sildesalgslag/Havsnurp 2017
The year’s best capelin week in the north, and still great fishing for blue whiting, with targeted herring fishing, writes Kenneth Garvik of Norges Sildesalgslag in week 10 of 2023.
It was again a very good blue whiting week with a total of 53,500 tonnes in the journal. This quantity was fished by 29 different boats with catches ranging from 670 tonnes as the lowest, to the largest catch from “Havskjær” of 2,600 tonnes.
All catches, except from a Scottish boat, are fished in international waters southwest of Ireland. The fishing here has been particularly good this winter, with unusually dense patches of blue whiting. This week, a lot of wind has hampered fishing on some days.
With such good fishing over several weeks, we have now fished just under 179,000 tonnes of the quota of around 305,000 tonnes. This is a totally different picture than last year when only a modest 8,800 tonnes were fished from the same area.
We also register that nine boats in the blue whiting trawl group and three boats from the pelagic trawl have finished their annual quotas.
We still expect good participation in this fishing, but some boats will focus on capelin fishing in the Barents Sea. It is hoped that blue whiting will still be available beyond 200 n. miles west of Ireland for a week or two.
Capelin Barents Sea:
As expected, we can report the year’s best capelin week from the Barents Sea. A total of 11,900 tonnes were caught last week. Of this quantity, purse-seine has fished 8,500 tonnes, trawl 2,000 tonnes and from the coastal group 1,400 tonnes have been fished.
The fishermen report good capelin registrations and many good seine casts have been taken. Fishing has taken place over a wide area with one western entry on Malangsgrunnen, north of Senja. Further east, catches have been taken north of Rolvsøy, and further east to the north of Nordkapp, as well as catches to east 29⁰ 30′, which becomes north of Berlevåg.
According to our contacts, the Russian fleet has fished well in its zone, so capelin is spread over a large area.
All capelin catches are sold for consumption and there has been good interest from buyers. And the catches from last week have been sold to buyers from Karmøy in the south to Tromsø in the north.
As is normal, capelin in the Barents Sea is slightly smaller than that in Iceland. The package sizes vary from 45 to 58 pieces/kg. With a total average of around 50 pcs./kg. A positive feature is that the capelin has had little fat content.
What makes capelin attractive is the content of capelin roe. The catches last week have contained from 18 to 23.5% roe, and most have sorted female and male capelin for the various markets. We expect that roe processing will become more relevant in the future.
13,800 tonnes of the quota of 37,150 tonnes have now been fished. With good availability and good weather conditions, we expect that the coming week will be the best week for capelin fishing in the Barents Sea.
Then we can put two lines under the winter’s herring fishing. And that with a modest weekly quantity of just 1,500 tonnes. This is distributed over six catches with quantities ranging from 150 tonnes to 340 tonnes.
The catches were taken on the Helgeland coast at the height of Sandnessjøen. The sizes of the herring vary from 287-330 grams. The herring were in spawning mode, and several of the catches were used for processing herring roe.
A quick look at this winter’s herring fishing shows that Norwegian boats have caught well over 167,000 tonnes since New Year. This is just under 20,000 tonnes more than last year when we had 148,000 tonnes. In addition, foreign boats have fished 9,000 tonnes.
There has been good quality of the herring and good interest from consumer buyers, where much of the catch is used for fillets.
What has been different is that herring fishing has taken place further north than last year. And the special thing here is that there has been no herring fishing in the known spawning areas on Møre.
Here they have been fishing for herring for time immemorial in winter, with the exception of when herring fishing was closed after the collapse at the end of the 60s.