HALIFAX—Today Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced that the 2023 2J3KL commercial capelin fishery will open with a total allowable catch at 14,533 tonnes, a rollover of last year’s decision.
“The capelin stock is deep in the critical zone according to DFO’s own Precautionary Approach Framework,” says Katie Schleit, Fisheries Director at Oceans North. “We’re disappointed in DFO’s shortsighted decision for a species that plays such a critical role in the ecosystem and supports other fisheries.”
Earlier this year—and for the first time in Atlantic Canadian history—DFO successfully implemented an ecosystem-based reference point for this stock. This reference point is used to assess the health of capelin and was devised based on linkages between capelin abundance and cod recovery. This ground-breaking approach used in the 2023 stock assessment showed that the capelin stock is at critically low levels, causing impacts to the ecosystem and associated species as well as a long-term loss of fishing opportunities.
Capelin usually “roll” onto Newfoundland’s beaches in June. However, this has been delayed in recent years due to changing climate conditions. As capelin are an important forage species that provide food for marine mammals and birds, the decision to exploit the commercial capelin stock further may have long-lasting impacts to the wider ecosystem, including the rebuilding of the iconic 2J3KL cod stock.
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