A good capelin season in Trinity Bay

Reprinted from The Packet, August 5, 2016
by Lester Green

After a very dismal fixed-gear capelin fishery in 2015, fishers labelled the 2016 season as profitable. The season officially opened at 0600 hours on July 18 with a total allowable quota of 3592 metric tons, the same as last year.

Last year’s fishery was labelled as a failure by most fishers. Less than half of the 3592 metric ton quota was caught, and the capelin that did arrive were in deep water, making them harder to catch.

This year, purse seiners were allowed to start seining at 0600 on July 19 and fishery lasted until July 27. The capelin in Trinity Bay were concentrated mostly in the Random Island area. According to reports from across the bay and in the bottom of Trinity Bay, capelin were scarce in those areas.

The season began slowly in the Random area with school of caplin reported as being small with concentration of fish containing 6000-7000lbs during the first few days. The schools of caplin became larger as the season progressed, with boats tucking up (pursing) easily 15,000 pounds at a time.
The largest concentration of capelin was in the harbour at Hickman’s Harbour, a place where capelin are not usually found. For days, people from the shoreline could watch as up to 30 boats surrounded and pursed up schools of capelin.

In the last three days of the fishery, boats left the wharves in the community and placed their seines in the harbour waters and filled the holds of their boats with the small silvery fish.

The female capelin are heavily sought after by the Asian markets. The male capelin is sold as food for the animal market; places like the Vancouver Aquarium purchase large quantities to feed captive mammals.

Most of the processed female capelin was shipped to Republic of China.

Most of the seiners succeed in catching their daily limits of 35,000 lbs. The combination of the price — up to 22 cents per pound — and length of this year’s season led to a profitable capelin fishery for the boats from Hickman’s Harbour as well as longliners from the South West Arm area.