mackerel east coast iceland

The research ship Árni Friðriksson which was involved in the survey of mackerel off the east coast of Iceland. Photo: Vigfús Markússon

The Icelandic research vessel, Árni Friðriksson arrived in port on Monday, 26 July after completing its participation in the annual pelagic ecosystem expedition in the northern seas during the summer (IESSNS, International Ecosystem Summer Survey in the Nordic Seas) which began on 5 July. 

The expedition went around the country. 64 tow stations were taken and about 4300 nautical miles or 8 thousand km were sailed. Sea measurements were also made, and samples were taken at most trawling stations.

The expedition investigated the distribution and density of mackerel, herring and blue whiting in Icelandic territorial waters, with the exception of the southeastern part of it, which was studied by the Faroe Islands and Norway. 

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Figure 1. Distribution and density of mackerel, herring, blue whiting and lumpfish (red filled rings). Surface trawls with no catch of the relevant species are marked with an x. Note that the density scale varies between species and for blue whiting only shows where the species was caught and not the density. Fig: Hafogvatn

Preliminary results show that the number of mackerel in Icelandic territorial waters is more than in the summer of 2020 but much less than the decade before, see Figure 1.

Mackerel has a significantly greater distribution in the east of the country than in the summer of 2020, but the density is low. 

As in recent years, Norwegian-Icelandic spring spawning herring was caught at most trawling stations in the north and east of the country, and Icelandic summer spawning herring was caught on the continental shelf to the south and west of the country. 

The 0-year-old blue whiting was caught at the edge of the continental shelf to the south and west of the country, which last happened in this expedition in the summer of 2011. Little was seen of the mature blue whiting. Lumpfish were the most widespread of all species and were caught in 59 of 64 places.

Data from the five ships participating in the expedition will be compiled and analyzed from mid-August, and the results of that work will then be presented at the end of August.

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Mackerel widespread off the east coast of Iceland but the density is low

by editor time to read: 5 min