The L'Anse-au-Loup fish plant is seeing a continued decline in their capelin intake.
With the seine drawn up capelin start dancing on the water. Adam Randel photo
Labrador Fisherman's Union Shrimp Company General Manager Gilbert Linstead says no capelin has turned up along Forteau or L'Anse-au-Clair the past two years and very little is turning up in L'Anse-au-Loup.
This year, the last load came in the fish plant on July 25. This is the latest Linstead has known for the capelin to come in.
He notes that they were larger than normal and, therefore, believes they must have come from the northern stock as, most years, they get the smaller capelin that migrates from the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
A month ago, the Northern Pen reported DFO biologist Fran Mowbray as saying their research showed that capelin stocks were actually up in the 3K and 2J fishing areas. However, communities in the Labrador Straits are located in 4R. Mowbray did not provide information for this separate stock in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
This seems to support Linstead's belief that the northern capelin was caught in the Labrador Straits, as the fish could have migrated south from the 2J zone to 4R.
But why the gulf fish aren't turning up remains a mystery.
Linstead offers one explanation, echoing L'Anse-au-Clair fisherman Kelvin Letto's claim last month that the seiners have had a negative impact on the volume.
"We don't get an opportunity to get as many capelin, because of the seiners, so the volume goes down substantially," he says. "Last year, it was down because of the same thing and, this year, it's estimated that it could be up to 20 to 25 million that was taken out of the bay by the seiners. So our inshore fishermen, who are just using traps along the shore, are going to have a hard job getting any substantial amount of capelin."
He believes the northern capelin will also disappear if the seiners are allowed to continue to catch capelin near the shore.
"If we continue to catch the capelin like we have been in the last couple of years, at the mouth of the bays and along the Labrador coast, then the time is going to come where we're not going to have any."