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Strange Behavior of Capelin in Icelandic Waters

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Strange Behavior of Capelin in Icelandic Waters

fishermen at work

Capelin fishing. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The migration pattern of capelin in Icelandic waters in the past weeks is highly unusual for this time of year; it has been largely unchanged since the Icelandic Marine Research Institute began studying the fish in the mid-1960s.

Sveinn Sveinbjörnsson, a specialist at the institute, explained to RÚV that the main school of spawning capelin had been in the Greenland Strait in January after which it migrated to the waters off North Iceland, as usual.

However, instead of continuing eastwards and then moving to the south along the eastern coast to the area off Hornafjörður in Southeast Iceland, as is common in the first days of February, the school stopped off central North Iceland or even turned around.

The capelin fleet is currently fishing off Skagi in Northwest Iceland.

“We don’t know what [the capelin] will do, whether it eventually migrates east but that would be considerably late judging by its usual behavior. It might also end up moving to the west, spawning off North Iceland or the West Fjords. It’s impossible to tell, we haven’t seen this behavior before,” Sveinn concluded.

Fréttablaðið reported that there aren’t sufficient funds for studying this changed migration pattern. Capelin is important to the national economy. Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson recently increased the capelin quota.

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