Marine Scotland scirntists have been involved in a survey which has been sampling northeast mackerel eggs in the Arctic Circle

Marine Scotland scientists have been involved in a survey to understand the behaviour of northeast Atlantic mackerel

Scientists from Marine Scotland have been involved in a survey sampling mackerel eggs in the Arctic Circle.

Four scientists from Marine Scotland, which is the Scottish Government Directorate responsible for the integrated management of Scotland’s seas, joined the crew of the chartered vessel Marine Fishing Vessel (MFV) Altaire to survey mackerel spawning activity within the Northern North Sea and Norwegian Sea regions this month.

Colleagues were involved in collecting and analysing plankton samples, as well as small quantities of adult mackerel for analysis to assist ongoing research led by scientists from the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen, Norway.

The three yearly International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) surveys have been running since 1977, with recent surveys reporting significant change taking place in the spawning behaviour of Northeast Atlantic (NEA) mackerel. It has found an increasing proportion of the stock appear to be moving away from the traditional hotspot areas, along the continental shelf edge west of the UK and Ireland and heading further offshore with spawning boundaries proving harder to define.

As part of the last survey review process, a commitment was made to undertake exploratory icthyoplankton (the eggs and larvae of fish) surveys within the mackerel spawning boundary areas in these remote North and Northwest regions, during June when the highest mackerel spawning densities are likely to be encountered.

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Mackerel eggs have been reported from virtually every station sampled albeit numbers have been generally low to moderate but this certainly provides hard evidence that the mackerel are spawning in latitudes above the Arctic Circle.

As the world’s northernmost non-Arctic nation, Scotland is directly affected by the profound changes that are occurring in the region. Scottish researchers have a long tradition of delivering world-class scientific projects in and about the Arctic. Seven Scottish universities are members of UArctic, an international and multidisciplinary network of higher education institutions that aims to further education and research about the High North. The Scottish Government’s Arctic policy framework – published in September 2019 – seeks to promote greater Scottish-Arctic cooperation and knowledge exchange with a view to developing joint solutions to common issues and ambitions.

Read the full story from Marine Scotland here.

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Scientist working to understand behaviour of Northeast Atlantic Mackerel

by editor time to read: 6 min