50 Monkstown Rd. St. John's, Nfld. Canada.
Capelin (traditional Newfoundland spelling 'caplin') are the most
important forage species in the Northwest Atlantic providing a vital
link in the food chain between plankton and larger animals.
Capelin spend the bulk of their lives offshore moving inshore only to spawn. Spawning takes place on beaches in June and July and attracts predators including fish, seabirds, whales, eagles and ospreys. Newfoundlanders call this the "capelin scull" and evenings in June and July will find adults and children down on the beaches equipped with buckets and dip nets to gather up this ocean bounty. Traditionally capelin were spread on gardens as fertilizer. Dried salted capelin are a traditional Newfoundland snack roasted on a stick over a camp fire.
There is a commercial fishery for capelin that provides females with roe to the Japanese market. Many Newfoundlanders believe that this is a very dangerous and wasteful fishery that should be discontinued. Every year the largest roe bearing female capelin are picked out and frozen for export to Japan. The rest, tens of thousands of tonnes of small female and male capelin are dumped out of fish processing plants into the sea. This was how the Japanese destroyed their own capelin stocks.
There is one capelin stock that spawns 200 miles offshore on a
Canadian Stock Assessment Secretariat,
provides scientific advice on capelin stocks. To read their documents
you will need Adobe Acrobat.