Habitat and Biology
Depth zone: Shelf (50 m - 200 m). Vertical distribution: Pelagic.
Capelin has a life-span of 3–5 years, and almost all individuals die after spawning.Environmental influence on the stock
Capelin is an important part of the diet for many predators, including cod, harp seals, minke whales, humpback whales, seabirds, and haddock. Capelin is the main prey item for cod. Growth, maturation, and cannibalism of cod are all affected by capelin abundance. The estimated annual consumption of capelin by cod has varied between 0.2 and 4.4 million tonnes over the period 1984–2011. Young herring consume capelin larvae, and this predation pressure is suggested to be among the main reasons for the poor year classes of capelin in the periods 1984–1986, 1992–1994, and 2001–2005. The abundance of young herring in the Barents Sea is expected to be at a low level in 2013.
Low capelin abundance has also in some periods had a negative impact on harp seal and seabird populations. However, these effects were much stronger during the first capelin collapse (associated with the 1983 year class of herring) than during the two subsequent collapses. After spawning, dead capelin may also be of importance as food for haddock and other benthic feeders.
Jurisdictional distribution: Shared between nations
Water Area Overview
Spatial Scale: Sub-Regional
Ecoregion: Barents Sea and Norwegian Sea
Considered a single stock: Yes
Since 1979, the fishery has been regulated by a bilateral agreement between Norway and Russia (formerly USSR). The catches have been very close to the advice in all years since 1987.
||Total catches (2011) = 360 kt, where 360 kt are landings (0 kt discards, 0 kt industrial bycatch, and 0 kt unaccounted removals).
ICES advises on the basis of the management plan agreed by the Joint Norwegian–Russian Fisheries Commission (JNRFC) that catches in 2013 should be no more than 200 000 tonnes.
Overall Assessment Results
|Figure 18.104.22.168 Capelin in Subareas I and II, excluding Division IIa west of 5°W (Barents Sea capelin). Summary of stock assessment (weights in million tonnes). |
Assessment ModelQuality consideration
The acoustic survey in September 2012 had a good coverage of the spatial distribution of the capelin stock. Sampling from commercial catches is considered to be adequate. The assessment takes into account the uncertainties both in the capelin survey estimate, the cod stock estimate, and in model parameters.
The overlap of mature cod with pre-spawning capelin can in some cases have a significant impact on the capelin stock. However, this issue is not included in the present model.Scientific basis
||Model estimating maturity, growth, and mortality (including predation by immature cod on pre-spawning capelin).
||Russian–Norwegian acoustic surveys in September (Eco-NoRu-Q3 (Aco)), used as absolute estimate.
|Discards and bycatch
||Discards and industrial bycatch are not accounted for as these are both negligible.
||Benchmark meeting in 2009.
|Working group report
Management unit: YesManagement plans
In 2002, the Joint Norwegian–Russian Fisheries Commission (JNRFC) agreed to adopt a management strategy in which the fishery is managed according to a target escapement strategy that takes the predation by cod into account. A basis for the management plan is that all catches are taken on pre-spawning capelin. The harvest control rule is designed to ensure that when the fishery is closed, the SSB remains above the proposed Blim
of 200 000 tonnes (with 95% probability). ICES considers the management plan to be consistent with the precautionary approach.
In 2010, the JNRFC decided that the management strategy should not be changed for the following five years.
Biological State and Trend
|Figure 22.214.171.124 |
The maturing component in autumn 2012 was estimated to be 2.0 million tonnes. The spawning stock in 2013 will consist of fish from the 2009 and 2010 year classes. The survey estimate of the 2011 year class at age 1 is slightly below the long-term average while 0-group observations during the joint Russian–Norwegian ecosystem survey in August–September 2012 indicated that the 2012 year class is well above the long-term average.
Source of information
The above excerpts are from the first two pages of the ICES advice, the supporting information to this advice can be read in full at the following reference:
ICES. Capelin in Subareas I and II, excluding Division IIa west of 5°W (Barents Sea capelin). Report of the ICES Advisory Committee, 2012. ICES Advice, October 2012. http://www.ices.dk/committe/acom/comwork/report/2012/2012/cap-bars.pdf