Capelin is a small pelagic fish, usually between 15 and 18 cm in catches, found in the North Atlantic, North Pacific and Arctic Oceans.
The capelin is possibly the most ecologically important fish in Icelandic waters. It has a key role in the food chain between animal plankton and larger fish.
Capelin stock has often sustained a catch of more than 1 million tonnes annually since 1978, often as much catch as all other species combined. The highest catches were in 1996 and 1997, about 1.5 million tonnes.
Most of the capelin catches goes to reduction, that is for fish meal and oil. Part of the catch is frozen at sea or after landing and processed into food for people.