June 1, 2021 – Today, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) released the 2021 Capelin Management Plan for area 4RST, announcing this year’s total allowable catch (TAC) set at 9,295 tonnes.
This Plan is status quo, and while we asked for reinstatement of the cut a few years back, it is promising to see the observations of harvesters acknowledged with the decision for the fishery to open on Thursday, June 3rd, days earlier than last year.
Capelin have already been reported from Port au Port to Bay of Islands, and harvesters and scientists alike have remarked on the exceptionally large number of capelin observed last year in 4R. As DFO indicated at the stock assessments earlier this year, the biomass of capelin is primarily environmentally-driven. Given the small amount of capelin removals, there is no indication that reductions to the fishery will affect the capelin stock trajectory in either 4R or 2J3KLPs.
Additional science, including on predators such as seals, is crucial to providing a better understanding on these two capelin stocks. DFO’s assessment states that the physical condition of capelin in Fall 2020 was the best in 23 years, suggesting improved survivability. However, harvesters remain concerned that biomass is not accurately measured, and may not reflect the total size of the capelin stock, which was last estimated (in 2019, since the 2020 Spring Acoustic Survey did not take place) at no less than 500,000 t for the limited surveyed area.
Capelin is an important contributor to hundreds of multi-species enterprises, many processing and other fishery workers in the province, as well as the socioeconomic wellbeing of their communities.