Saturday, July 14, 2007

Off on a boat!

That’s right – tonight is my last night in Akureyri before heading back to Reykjavík to board the Bjarni Saemundsson and set off for two weeks of shrimp surveying. There’s some basic information about the ship here. There’s also a link that is supposed to show locations of research vessels which might be updated along the way and give you an idea of where I am. I know that the survey generally focuses on waters in the north of Iceland – Hreiðar, who has gone on the survey before, says sometimes they even make it to the waters near Greenland and trawl in areas where there aren’t too many icebergs. I’ll be gone for two weeks: we leave on the 16th and get back on the 31st, so probably no news from me here or otherwise until I return.

So the real question you’re asking: shrimp? Aren’t you supposed to be studying cod? Well, yes. But it turns out that the annual groundfish surveys aren’t held during the time I’m in Iceland, but the shrimp survey is going on now, and will give me the idea for how the surveys are conducted. Because despite the huge amount of complexity in the ecosystem here, the management strategy is fairly straightforward: they take a census of the population, and then recommend catching a certain percentage of the fishable stock. Since shrimp and cod are both managed under this same quota system, this will give me a chance to see how the surveys are conducted. Also, since shrimp nets are so small, this survey will also catch a lot of fish along with the shrimp and it sounds like I’ll have a chance to see plenty of cod too.

I’m intrigued by how simple this management strategy seems but in practice, of course, this is a huge undertaking: for cod, the survey includes trawling over 500 sites using five different ships, both in the fall and the spring, and looking not just at the total number of individuals, but at the age and size of each. The survey data is then combined with data collected based on commercial catches (from lots of sampling like I went along to the fish processing plant to help with) and plugged into an algorithm to estimate the numbers and size of each year-class of fish. Since the survey collects data on fish too young to be caught, they know in advance how big the upcoming class of fishable stock will be and can make recommendations based on that. The key to a quota system is to base the quota on highly accurate data and then to enforce it strictly. The enforcement is pretty much separate from the science side of things, but this will also give me a chance to see how much data goes into the population analyses (although, since shrimp aren’t quite as commercially important as cod, it’s also not quite as extensively studied).

Another reason for learning about shrimp is that, as it turns out, studying the cod fishery – both in Iceland and, I suspect, pretty much everywhere – means learning about all the things that fit in with the cod, both in the ecosystem and in the social and political systems. Ecosystem interactions have become a big focus of fisheries research over the past decade or so, looking at how different species interact, how ocean chemistry and currents and temperatures affect the fish, how changes in the bottom environment affect habitat quality and the fish who use the habitat as protection as eggs and juveniles. Since cod are a major predator and eat voraciously, the success of the cod population is interdependent with the success of their prey – capelin, a pelagic fish, is their favorite food, but they also eat shrimp and Norway lobster and other crustaceans and even other cod. Management then ends up making calculations about how much of each species to catch based on factors like the fact that cod get more nutrition per weight for capelin than for crustaceans and that the cod, per weight, is worth more than capelin but less than Norway lobster in deciding how to set the quotas. It’s a tricky business, and though there have been innumerable studies, of which I’ve only read a small proportion, I don’t think there’s any way to strike that perfect balance with quotas. In any case, shrimp populations are often heavily influenced by cod, so even with no other reason, the shrimp survey will be interesting for the sense of multispecies interactions.

So I think that’s all I have until I come back. In case you want to see more of my adventures even while I’m gone, the most astute of blog-readers might have already noticed the link on the side: I now have some additional pictures on a separate site that go along with some of the things I’ve previously written about, and also some exploring around in the Akureyri area today. More news in a few weeks!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Processing fish

Yesterday I got my first look at some large cod up close, and lots of it. Part of the way the MRI keeps track of the fish stocks here is by sampling the catches brought in by the commercial fishing companies, and I went along to the fish plant to watch and help a bit. Hreiðar and Hlynur, who took me along, had obviously done this many times before – Hlynur said they go a few times a month to different plants in the area – but I turned out to actually be of some help because the computer wasn’t working properly and they had to resort to that old-fashioned method of recording data with pencil and paper.

For each of the species they sampled – cod, haddock, and redfish, which are the three most important commercial species here – they measured the lengths and weights and collected the ear bones (called otoliths) which can be used to determine the age. The information from this type of sampling from commercial catches along with similar data from the annual surveys goes into an algorithm that is used to determine the size of each year class of fish in the population, which the MRI then uses to make a quota recommendation for how much fish should be caught in the coming year.

In addition to seeing how the sampling was done, I also got a chance to see the inside of an Icelandic fish processing plant. I didn’t take any pictures, but here’s one from the Museum of Industry (a little outdated, but gives you something of the idea):

The first thing about this fish plant is that they’re very clean and very efficient. There was a whole process of taking off shoes, walking through to another room and putting on gowns and plastic coverings over hair and exposed clothes, and then walking somewhere else to put on rubber boots before going in, to make sure that the processing area stays clean. Just walking through, I could see most of a very complicated assembly line, from boxes of iced fish being dumped onto a conveyor belt to neatly-filleted fish at the end. There were a lot of workers, each sorting or cutting or moving the fish through some part of the process. It’s a lot of jobs, and Hreiðar says the pay is pretty good, but apparently Icelanders don’t really want to work in fish plants, so many of the workers are immigrants from Poland or Taiwan. A number of people have mentioned to me that the fish plant workers are largely immigrants, and unlike in the US where many people seem to begrudge immigrants even jobs that Americans don’t want, the Icelanders seem to think it’s a good thing that people want to come and do the jobs that they don’t want themselves. The plant also is efficient in using all parts of the fish – the heads are dried and exported to Nigeria, where apparently they are a delicacy, and the carapace once the head and fillets are removed is also saved for things like soup.

Since I was there with so much fish, Hreiðar also took the time to show me some of the different fish species. There was one bin with examples of each of the major species, which he showed to me. Of course, the only one I actually could identify on my own was the cod (and only because I’d had to show a diagram of it in my presentation for biology last semester). The nice display of fish turned out to be there for a school group of kindergarteners who came through on a tour while we were there. Which goes to show once more how important the fisheries are here – other than on Mr. Rodgers, I never saw any factories at all growing up, and no one would think to take a kindergarten class in the US to see different kinds of fish – but in Iceland, pretty much everyone knows something about the fish and the fisheries.

What I was most impressed by was how routine it seemed for the MRI to come and sample and how compliant the commercial fishery seemed to be with the government regulations. They brought over boxes of fish for the sampling as Hlynur asked for them and Hreiðar pointed out the tags on the boxes of undersized fish, which have to be reported separately (but not thrown back as unreported bycatch, which is illegal). Maybe I’m overly-cynical about fisheries elsewhere, but most US companies don’t seem to get on well with environmental regulators and wouldn’t be so nonchalant about having the scientific monitoring agency coming through their factories. No one’s a big fan of the MRI right now, since it recommended the 63,000 ton cut in the cod quota for next year that the Fisheries Minister decided to follow in making the quota decision, announced last week, but these big commercial companies at least seem to be willing to follow the rules even if they don’t always agree with them. I’m probably getting a skewed picture, since I came in with the MRI and even when I talked with someone who works at Samherji (the second biggest fishing company by quota percentages) I’m probably still getting the “what we tell outsiders” shpiel, but even considering that, it seems that the cooperation with the MRI is much better than I’d expect to find other places…I guess I’ll have to see.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Lots of jellyfish

That's what I did Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week – caught buckets and buckets full of jellyfish. We went out on the MRI’s small research vessel here and collected samples from all over Eyjafjörður, as part of a large project to study jellyfish populations all around Iceland. Although I initially decided to go out just to have a chance to help with some real research and be out on a boat before leaving for the shrimp survey, it turns out that even a jellyfish study can be related back to the cod fishery: the research is being funded by aquaculture companies that grow cod and salmon in sea pens that are having problems with clogging from jellyfish.

This is what the aquaculture pens we passed in Eyjafjörður look like:

When large populations of jellyfish get into the area of the pens, they splatter in the netting around the pens and can cause whole pens of fish to die. The jellyfish haven’t been studied very heavily around Iceland, so hopefully if they know more about their lifecycle and population dynamics, they can predict when the large populations will come through and set up some kind of barrier to protect the fish they are growing. So, when it comes down to it, it’s all about the cod.

To get there, though, requires looking at a lot of jellyfish. Most of the looking is being done by Guðjón, a masters student in marine biology at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík, who is spending the summer traveling around Iceland going out and collecting samples and then will spend the winter going through each of the samples to identify, count, and measure each and every jellyfish. They make you work hard for a masters degree, it seems.

So off we went in search of jellyfish in the Einar i Nesi, the MRI's trusty research vessel.

Each place we stopped to sample, we lowered a device with two equal-sized circular openings that collected the jellyfish in 500 micron mesh nets that splayed out behind the boat and collected the jellyfish (and anything else that got caught in the net, including a lot of juvenile fish) in a removable cod end (I don’t think the term is related to the fish – it just means the place where everything collects at the end of the net).

Tryggvi, the captain, operates the crane to lower the nets:

Here they are going down:

After we were done sampling, we brought the nets back up to collect everything that had been caught to preserve for analysis during the winter.

Guðjón checks the flow meter on the nets that have just come up to record how much water flowed through the nets during the sampling period:

We rinsed out the nets to get everything into the cod end at the bottom, detached the cod end, and dumped everything inside into a plastic bucket and then added formaldehyde to preserve all the contents.

Then we cleaned off the nets, stored the sample buckets, and got ready to do it all again.

It’s definitely hard work, particularly when it was windy and the sea was rough – I’ve been ridiculously tired the past few nights and collapsed in bed before ten – but it was great to be out in a boat, to see the fjord, and to finally be doing some actual work. The weather also turned out to be excellent – the fog cleared, the sun came out, and the view of the fjord was absolutely gorgeous. Iceland is a spectacularly beautiful place. In between samples, there was lots of time to stand on deck and look at the mountains and the water and the small towns we passed and the trawlers that passed us.

My pictures really can’t do justice to what I was seeing, but here are some examples:

We also had some time for fun, which included teaching me how to fish, and catching my first Icelandic haddock. Apparently Icelanders eat mostly haddock – most of the cod is exported, and the pollock Guðjón caught the first day he threw back because Icelanders don’t think it’s a good food fish. At the end of the day yesterday, Tryggvi filleted all four haddock we had caught (adding to an eerie fish graveyard of gutted fish in the water next to the dock in the harbor) and gave them all to me to take home.

This is my first attempt at cooking fish in Iceland:

It was good. And now my fridge is full of fish soup, which was dinner tonight. And fish it will be until I leave for the shrimp survey, since I don’t want to let any of it go to waste.

I have re-concluded that I like the sea, which is good, because we’re going to be spending a lot of time together this year. Even if all I do is go out on boats and get cold and wet and covered in jellyfish slime, it will be a good year.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Akureyri, City of the North

I’ve been in Akureyri for a week now, and it’s starting to feel like home – I’m getting used to nights where it doesn’t actually get dark and showers that smell of sulfur. Some background about Akureyri: it’s the second-largest city in Iceland (after Reykjavík), but with only 16,700 residents, it’s still pretty small as cities go (about half the population of Amherst, MA). It’s situated at the end of the longest fjord on the island, Eyjafjörður, sandwiched between the fjord and the mountains, and is in an absolutely gorgeous location.

I took this picture from the small boat I’ve been going out on for the past two days (more on that later) while pulling out of the harbor, but it doesn’t really do the town justice.

When I go to town, I’ve been spending time in the Paris Café (which, though it looked recent and touristy to me was actually first opened in 1913 and sold textiles and groceries) and in the bookstore across the street. Both are good places to read and write – I’ve finished reading through my first batch of papers on cod and started on the Icelandic sagas. They’re also good places to find extra copies of Icelandic newspapers, which I’ve been perusing because the fishing quotas for next year were just announced and I’ve been looking for stories in the paper (not that I can read Icelandic, but among the words I know are “cod” and “fish” and “Marine Research Institute”).

I’m living slightly outside the center of town – about a 45 minute walk along the bike path, although only 5 minutes by car – in student housing for the University of Akureyri. It’s also on the other side of the river Glerá, so on my walk to the university (also where the Marine Research Institute branch here has its offices) or to town, I also cross the river. The bridge is right at the dam built in the early 20th century to generate hydroelectric power.

I took this picture from the bridge.

I spent most of last week getting my bearings – finding the MRI offices, finding the grocery stores, finding new paths to town – but I also tried to learn as much as I could about the area. Among the interesting things I found:

The most northerly botanical garden in the world, which had both Arctic and Icelandic flora among the more familiar species.

A very large soccer tournament, with one section for the younger children close to town and another for adults right across from where I live (there were a few women’s teams with the adults; I couldn’t tell whether there were any younger girls playing). It was a big event (even written up in some of the national newspapers), and everyone seemed to be having a good time both playing and cheering, although I don’t think anyone other than me was excited by how pretty a location for a tournament they had chosen.

I’ve wanted to learn more about Icelandic folk music for the past year, so I went to a concert/historical singing tour of Icelandic music, held in the Akureyri Museum Church (which, incidentally, was only moved to Akureyri from farther up the fjord in 1970, but is on the site of Akureyri’s oldest church, which was built in 1862). The performance was by an Icelandic couple, who sang music from early skaldic poetry and ballads through to songs from the 20th century.

Icelandic music was traditionally mostly vocal, since there wasn’t much wood to use to make instruments, and they maintained the parallel-fifths style of singing (think Gregorian chants) throughout their history, which gives it a distinctive sound. Unfortunately, there turns out not to be any Icelandic folk dancing – they still perform dance music, but they stopped doing the dances in the 1800s and now you have to go to the Faroe Islands to learn Icelandic folk dances. They also don’t seem to have a tradition of sea chanties in particular, although since almost everyone lived by the sea and many spent at least part of the year fishing, there are lots of songs about the sea and some sailor’s songs. And although they don’t have work songs, they did know one rowing song (Viking ships relied heavily on oarsmen) and said that rímur (rhymed poetry used to tell and retell long stories, performed in half-singing chant style that is somewhat reminiscent of chanties) were used to time rhythmic work both such as on a ship or even for sewing.

This Sunday was a special day on which Icelandic museums didn’t charge admission, so I particularly went to a lot of museums.

Both the Museum of Industry and the Akureyri Museum reminded me of the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh – probably the combination of local specificity and the display of retail products (including lots and lots of fish products, advertised in Icelandic, Russian, English, and French). Akureyri didn’t become a major city until the mid-nineteenth century, when it grew as an industrial center due its location near productive agricultural areas. Industries in the area include everything from textiles (mainly wool) to dairy processing to ship building to (of course) fishing. Many of the companies and locations described I had already discovered in town, including Samherji, a fishing company I had learned about during the week by talking with the director of fishfarming at the company’s offices in town, and Netto, one of the grocery stores I’ve shopped at, which was opened in 1989 by the Eyjafjörður Cooperative Society, originally founded in 1886 by farmers who wanted to facilitate the sale of Icelandic sheep to England.

I also visited the homes of two Icelandic poets, Davíð Stefánsson and Rev. Matthías Jochumsson – admittedly, only partly because I was interested in seeing their homes and learning about their poetry and also partly because I had read that they were providing coffee and cakes to the public in honor of this special free-entrance day. At Davíð’s house (Davíðshús), they played a cassette of him reading his own poetry which, although I couldn’t understand, had an entrancing rhythm and rhyme pattern, and I spent a while standing in his living room (historical preservation in Iceland apparently allows for using the house, which although I find unusual, is kind of nice – makes the house feel more like a house that real people once lived in) drinking coffee and eating kringla (an Icelandic pastry) and listening. Matthías wrote, among many things (he was Iceland’s most prolific poet), many of the psalms included in the church services here – enough to merit immortalizing him on the stained-glass in the Akureyri Church.

The highlight of visiting his house, though, were the waffles, served with jam and whipped cream.

Last stop of the museum round was at the Akureyri Church, the architectural centerpiece of the town, for an organ concert in an every-Sunday series for the month of July and – which I found much more interesting – an Icelandic church service.

I find Iceland’s religious history particularly fascinating because I think it is the only country where they officially recognized that converting was a matter of political convenience and all decided to convert en masse on those grounds – first to Christianity, and then to Protestantism – and today over 85% of the country belongs to the official Church of Iceland (although apparently most do not attend church regularly). The service was all in Icelandic, and I haven’t even quite mastered enough to catch the page numbers to follow along for the psalms everyone sang, but the soprano and the acoustic guitar player who lead the singing were worth listening to even without understanding (simpler and more my taste than organ music), and I could at least identify major parts of the service. At the end, the priest invited everyone to come up and be blessed and even made a point of repeating the invitation in English for the non-Icelanders (there were a few of us, and since it was a small crowd and he obviously knew everyone, we were easy to pick out), so I was blessed in Icelandic by a Lutheran priest.

This week I’ve been going out on the Marine Research Institute’s small research boat, helping with a study of jellyfish populations in Iceland. Although initially this doesn’t sound terribly cod-related, the funding for the study comes from aquaculture companies who grow cod in sea pens that are being clogged by jellyfish, killing the fish in the pens. So, like everything in Iceland, it all comes back to the cod.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Journey to Akureyri

Despite what should have been an entirely straightforward trip from Reykjavik to Akureyri, I managed to run into a number of small near-disasters (well, none would actually have been a disaster, but would have prevented successful journeying) that kept the trip exciting. I booked my reservation on the highland bus the night before leaving since online bookings save 10% and prepared to leave the hostel in the morning half an hour before the bus was scheduled to leave, which turned out to be my first two mistakes. 1) Somehow I miscalculated how far things were in town, and the next morning, it took me 38 minutes for me to walk to the bus station, so by the end I was half-running and red-faced when I finally made it to the station. I was in luck, though – the bus was still there. But then I discovered mistake 2) Apparently nobody actually uses the online booking service, and the people at the station were dubious about my claims of having paid for a ticket and the little scrap of paper I was holding with my confirmation number.

Eventually, though, after holding up the bus leaving for about 15 minutes, they finally decided to let me on, and off we headed for Akureyri. The exciting part about taking the highland road (Kjölur route) rather than the slightly faster route is that we got to stop at some of Iceland’s natural attractions on the way – 20 minutes each at Geysir (it’s…you guessed it…a geyser) and Gullfoss (a waterfall – every “foss” in Iceland is a waterfall) and 40 minutes at Hveravellir, a geothermal area of hot springs and steam vents.

At Geysir, we had just enough time to walk from the parking lot to the geyser (called Strokkur) before it erupted. I didn’t get a picture of Strokkur itself, but this is Litli Geysir (Little Geyser) just down the path.

And this is a steam vent, called Smidur.
Even with the pictures, though, there’s no way to quite describe the surreal landscape of steam vents and bright-colored streams growing exotic microbes in the hot sulfur water juxtaposed against an idyllic pastoral landscape of verdant rolling hills and wildflowers. This is the Iceland I got to see last year from the geology trip, and it’s still just as fascinating and beautiful as before.

Next stop was at Gullfoss, an impressive waterfall on the river Hvitá, which drains glacial runoff starting from underneath the glacier Langjökull.

This is Gullfoss.

And this is me in front of the waterfall, at the end of the trail you can see to the left in the picture above.

Our next stop was unplanned. We stopped along the road for just a couple minutes to have a chance to get out and walk around on the long stretch of road across the highlands – but when we went to get back on, the engine wouldn’t start.

This is our bus, with the mountains in the distance.

It was a pretty spot, with a nice view of Langjökull, but not really somewhere I would choose to spend the night.

The bus driver had us all get off and push the bus to give in a running start to help start the engine, but no luck. One of the other passengers, a French biker, came to the rescue and gave the driver some sort of instructions on what to do to start the engine.

Here he is talking with the driver, talking animatedly about engines, while the rest of us stand back and she listens slightly incredulously.

So all the rest of us pushed again, and somehow the two of them managed to get the engine to start while the bus rumbled down the road, leaving all the rest of us passengers in the dust (literally).

It all worked out though, and we got back on the bus and made it to our last mid-trip stop at Hveravellir (where the same French biker ran to the front of the bus as we approached to double-check that the driver would leave the engine running while we stopped).

This was my favorite of the steam vents, called Öskurhólshver, which means roaring mount hot spring – an apt name, as it made a loud hissing noise like a kettle while the steam kept shooting out.

The water in this stream coming out of the geothermal area was about the temperature of bathwater.

And a few short hours later, we pulled into the bus station in Akureyri, where I found a map and made my way towards the University and my new home at the student guesthouse (with a little help from the very nice man in charge of the student housing, who picked me up down the road when I thought I’d gotten lost).

Also, happy 4th of July, America!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Reykjavík: Days 1-3

I’m in Akureyri now, but I’m going to go back to tell some stories and share some pictures from the first few days of my travels while in Reykjavík.

All flights to Iceland from the US land in Keflavik, about 45 minutes from Reykjavík and on the peninsula. Reykjavík is Iceland’s capitol and the city where the majority of the population of the country lives (the Icelandair magazine said 75% of the population, although I think that’s also counting the people who live in other cities nearby on the peninsula), and since we had just barely stopped on the drive through on the geology trip last August, I wanted to spend a few days seeing the city.

Despite being the largest city in the country, it’s still fairly small by American standards (for reference, Wikipedia lists the population of Pittsburgh as larger than the total population of Iceland, which is 309,700). There are lots of parks and walking paths and just wandering around with the free map from the airport looking for interesting things to see and do, the city was very navigable.

The walk from the youth hostel where I stayed to downtown was about half an hour along a nice bike path by the coast.

This is the view towards the mountains across the fjord that I could see from the path.

And a view from the same path at sunset – taken at 11:38pm (remember that Iceland is very far north - Reykjavík is the most northerly capitol city in the world at 64°08' N – so it’s light almost all the time in summer).

This is the house where Reagan and Gorbachav met in 1986, which the signs claim was the beginning of the end of the Cold War. It looks out over the water, and I passed it on my way to and from the hostel.

And here’s a picture of me in front of a sculpture along the path close to the port downtown.

One of the best views of the city is from Perlan (The Pearl), a fancy restaurant and lookout point at the top of a hill. I walked up the hill to see the view on my way to the south side of the peninsula to walk along the shore on the less urban side of the city.

This is Perlan.

And this is the view back towards downtown from the top of the hill.

Also on this same walk along the south side of the peninsula, I found a geothermal beach where I went swimming. Iceland is known for its spas, as there is an ample supply of hot slightly-sulfurous groundwater due to Iceland’s incredible amount of volcanic activity being located on both a hot spot and the midocean ridge (geologists: my apologies for the gross simplification). Iceland is not, however, known for ocean swimming, as the water temperature here is much more conducive to hypothermia than seabathing. At this beach, however, hot water is pumped into the bay, making the water temperature much more conducive to swimming.

Here’s what the beach looked like from the warm area in the bay (hooray for a waterproof camera!).

And here’s my proof that I did indeed go swimming in Iceland.

In addition to sightseeing in the city, I also found a few people and places related to cod and fishing. I went to the Icelandic Culture House to learn a little about the country’s history, and among the illuminated manuscripts of eddas and sagas was one from around 1400 that contained the Saga of Archbishop Nicholas, which became popular with the rise of the fishing industry as St. Nicholas is the patron saint of seafarers. I also went to the maritime museum, which is located in an old freezing plant on the harbor. Among the objects on display were on of the warp cutters used as the “secret weapon” in the Cod Wars with Britain in the 1970s while Iceland was fighting to expand its exclusive right to fish the waters around the island and a breeches buoy used for rescuing sailors from sinking ships, just like the one we used with the demonstration squad at Mystic.

Really, though, fishing is everywhere. My favorite example was meeting a Russian man fishing on the pier with his wife, who talked with me about recreational fishing in Iceland and his former travels in the United States. Not only is it not necessary to get a license to fish in the harbor (“The ocean is for the people,” he told me), but the fishing is also very good: he caught four fish (three gadiform-looking fish which he said was similar to cod, and one flatfish) in the 45 minutes I spent talking with him.

Here he is with one of the fish he caught.

I also went to the Marine Research Institute offices, where I talked with a number of different people who talked with me about their research and cod fishing and management and gave me quite a number of relevant papers to read, most in English but some also in Icelandic. Björn Björnsson told me about cod aquaculture and the idea of cod “ranching” by feeding and conditioning the cod population in an area so that they grow larger and are easier to catch than normally in the wild, which is a radically different approach to cod fishing that I’m curious to learn more about. Jón Sólmundsson told me about the annual groundfish survey, where samples have been taken from over 500 sites twice a year since 1985, providing the data that is used to develop the MRI’s recommendation on the yearly fishing quotas. Vilhjálmur Þorsteinsson told me about his research with fish tagging, which shows that there are multiple different cod stocks in Iceland – both inshore and migratory offshore stocks – which behave differently, although they are all managed as one stock through the quota system. I’m still reading the information they gave me and trying to figure out what if anything I can conclude about what it all means for the Icelandic cod stock and for management, but I certainly learned a lot and they were all very nice and I enjoyed our conversations immensely.

I also met (very briefly) G. Skúli Bragason, who is in charge of the shrimp survey I will be going out with in two weeks, and I’m sure I’ll be getting to know much better by the end of the survey. Also, thinking of the survey, while I was walking around the port, I saw the Bjarni Saemundsson, the ship I will be on for the survey.

Here she is.

I’ll have more pictures and stories from my trip to Akureyri and first few days here coming soon, but until then, my best to all of you reading in the US and beyond.