Warmer waters may be changing fish life – Fishupdate.com

Warmer waters may be changing fish life Published:  05 September, 2007

RISING sea water temperatures may be changing the pattern of marine life in northern fishing waters, new research has confirmed.

A number of unusual events such as melting ice and the sighting off Iceland of unusual fish, sharks and mammals like Mediterranean sea turtles have increased suspicions, but these have now been reinforced by more detailed scientific data.

The Icelandic Marine Research Institute announced yesterday that the spread of blue whiting, herring and cod fry in Icelandic waters this summer was totally different from that in July 2006, possibly because of rising ocean temperatures.

Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries Einar K. Gudfinnsson, yesterday told the country’s main daily newspaper Morgunbladid: “These are interesting indicators, but I don’t think it’s the right time for me to make any other comments on this case before further data has been collected. The results emphasise the necessity for us to further strengthen marine research.”

The Marine Research Institute discovered capelin off east Greenland; mostly two-year-old fish which will spawn early next year and carry capelin fishing in the 2008 winter season. “It gives us a reason to be optimistic,” said Fridrik J. Arngrímsson, managing director of the Association of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners (LÍU).

However, the leader of the expedition, Ólafur K. Pálsson, warned people against drawing any major conclusions yet. “This is only the second expedition of its kind,” he said, the first being in July 2006.

This year’s expedition took place between August 8 and 27 and the fact that it was undertaken one month later than last year could also explain why the spread of fry was different from 2006.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, Fridrik J. Arngrímsson, managing director of the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners said that he would like to send a marine research ship to Greenland to investigate the cod stock situation there. Icelandic trawlers have caught a significant amount of cod off Greenland’s eastern shore recently.

Icelandic vessel owners face a huge reduction in their cod catching effort this year and probably for several more years with the introduction this week of a 60,000 tonne cut in the annual cod quota.

Mr Fridriksson said special permission is needed from Greenland for an Icelandic marine research ship to investigate the situation of the cod stock in Greenland’s waters, but claimed acquiring it would be easy since Greenland would also profit from the results. However, the Iceland Marine Research Institute has indicated that it does not have a budget for such an expedition at this time which could cost more than £150,000.

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