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2022 capelin price to take nose dive; Iceland/Norway fisheries pump over 1m tonnes into world market

There's a 17¢/lb spread between the 35¢/lb top price the FFAW has on the table, and the 18¢/lb processors have offered the inshore fleet for capelin this year. The province's price-setting panel will choose one price or the other by next week, but, either way, the price will take a nose dive from the high of 46.5¢/lb paid out in 2021.

The 2022 capelin quota off Labrador and eastern Newfoundland (fishing zones 2J,3KL), and off the island's south coast (fishing zone 3Ps) has been set at 14,533 tonnes, a rollover from last year. The Gulf capelin quota (fishing zones 4RST) was increased by 10% over 2021 to 10,225 tonnes.

Capelin from Newfoundland and Labrador was in high demand in 2019/20 because the commercial fisheries in Norway and Iceland — which usually land hundreds of thousands of tonnes a year — did not have capelin fisheries.

In 2020, Newfoundland was practically the sole supplier to the global market.

That's no longer the case.

Capelin catches in Icelandic waters restarted this past October, and could reach 904,200 tonnes in 2021/22, worth $385 million US.

The capelin fishery in the Barents Sea north of Russia was also reopened this year with a total quota of 70,000 tonnes.

At almost 25,000 tonnes, NL's caplin fishery this year amounts to a drop in the bucket compared to the combined almost one-million tonne quota in Icelandic waters and the Barents Sea.

Fisheries and Oceans is unable to accurately estimate the capelin numbers off NL because the department doesn't do a survey of the full area using sonar.

Other countries such as Iceland do acoustic surveys, allowing them to estimate the full numbers.

The 2021 Moya Greene report into the state of the province’s finances highlighted that little is known about the health of the capelin stock.

“The need for strong fisheries science cannot be overstated," read the report. "Capelin, for example, is partially assessed by trawl surveys and from the study of one or two beaches.”

The harp seal population has since grown to 7.6 million animals.

Ryan Cleary, Executive Director, SEA-NL

To read more about SEA-NL, or to join the non-profit organization please visit

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