Haven’t seen so little ice in Lofoten in 22 years

And the slate the researchers saw was mostly on the outer side of Lofoten – not in the Vestfjorden.

Published: 27/06/2023

Author: Anders Jacobsen

– We haven’t seen a sheet so small since 2001.

Here’s what oceanographer and cruise leader Edvin Fuglebakk had to say about the latest results from the ice fishing voyage, which takes place at the turn of the moon between March and April.

Now the trip report with the first results has just been published.

– We found the most fish on the outer side of Lofoten, but there were very few fish in the traditional fishing grounds inside the Vestfjorden, say marine researchers.

A few lean years

The expedition was part of the annual monitoring of cod stocks in the Barents Sea, considered the largest cod stocks in the world. Every year at the turn of March/April the cruise covers the area around Lofoten and Vesterålen when cod from the Barents Sea comes ashore to spawn.

– This area has been known for seasonal fishing after skrei for thousands of years, says Fuglebakk.

The measurements of the cruise ship are part of a time series that began in 1985.

– What interests us the most is how many cod of different age groups came to Lofoten to spawn this year, said Fuglebakk.

These results go directly to quota advisors – along with winter sailings, ecosystem cruises in the Barents Sea and catch statistics from commercial fisheries.

– This year’s results join a series of difficult years after hitting very high peaks. The decade from 2010 was marked by excellent spawning insights, said the marine researcher.

The fish’s full stomach should be empty

The researchers also observed something interesting in the stomachs of fish ready to spawn: lots of food.

– We found quite a lot of stomach contents in the spawning cod, so we knew they had eaten a lot. Usually their stomachs are nearly empty, says Fuglebakk.

The researchers also noticed the same trend last year. A little spawning trip north of Lofoten earlier this year saw the same thing.

– According to the textbook, the fish should stop eating and start spawning at that time. We don’t know why cod is doing this, but at least it’s not following textbook behavior, says Fuglebakk.

Lance Heptinstall

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