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Cod Numbers Reach Historic High

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Cod Numbers Reach Historic High

fishermen at work

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Cod stocks around Iceland have reached a historic high since record taking began in 1996, RÚV reports. Haddock stocks are still recovering after many years of low numbers. Stocks of most bottom fish are up according to measurements taken by the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute of Iceland (MFRI) last fall.

MFRI Director Sigurður Guðjónsson says changes in stock are in line with trends in recent years. “We see that sea temperature around Iceland has been very high in recent years, actually there’s a slight cooling now but there are always fluctuations. Distribution, stock size has changed enormously. Mackerel has arrived here, capelin is on the other hand gone farthest north in the oceans. We see tremendous changes. Some of these changes are positive and others negative,” Sigurður told RÚV.

Sigurður expressed concern about capelin stocks, an important source of food for fish like cod. “The size and growth of the capelin stock is very important for other species. Both juvenile and adult capelin are farther west and north than we have seen before. Which has caused difficulties in getting a good measurement of them for some time. In general you can say that everything is moving north. Southerly species are coming here and northerly species farther north,” he stated.

MRFI measures fish stocks twice a year where bottom fish are caught at the same stations with the same gear. The fall measurements show cod, ocean perch, saithe, witch flounder, plaice, cusk, and ling stocks at a record high. Spotted wolffish and two other species’ numbers are down.

Then next stock measurements will take place in March. “We stake our hopes on being able to put more energy into fundamental research to understand why stocks are increasing or decreasing in relation to the environment.” Sigurður says the institute will need increased funding to renew equipment and conduct research of that kind.

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