Each summer, five countries use six research vessels for six weeks to carry out the International Ecosystem Summer Survey in the Nordic Seas (IESSNS). Vessels from Iceland, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Norway are currently in the latter part of the survey.
The Icelandic R/V Arni Fridriksson departed Reykjavik on 3 July and expects to return to Reykjavik on 1 August. The crew have been documenting the progress of the vessel live and blogging their experiences.
We spoke to Anna Olafsdottir, Marine and Freshwater Research Institute and survey leader, about what the IESSNS involved.
"The core monitoring programmes remain the same from year-to-year. The IESSNS core programme involves measuring the abundance and distribution of mackerel, Norwegian spring-spawning herring, blue whiting, lumpfish, and Atlantic salmon. Additionally, most of the six vessels collect samples for various research projects for their home institutes."
Since 2014, the survey area has remained similar and the distance between the predetermined surface trawl stations is constant. However, station locations change each year. The location of the first station in each stratum is calculated using randomization and the other stations located at a set distance from the first one.
According to Olafsdottir, the diversity of her workday keeps life at sea interesting. "Definitely, I need to follow up on all the many and various projects, do my shift in the acoustic lab, as well as maintaining a great working relationship with the crew.Unexpected challenges will pop up each year. "There are always unforeseen challenges, including summer storms, drift ice, damages to the standardized swept area trawl, and emergency rescue. Participating in the rescue of three people from a yacht during a storm is one of the most memorable during my three years on the job. Staying on schedule when working in such an unpredictable environment is always a major challenge".
While the crews of the other vessels involved in 2019 IESSNS do not blog, they have participated in a live online map of vessel progress for the first time this year. "Obtaining the permits to display the location of foreign vessels was a lot of work! It took two attempts to climb the mountain of international paperwork needed, but we got there thanks to determination of my coworkers Sigurður Jónsson and Einar Hjörleifsson".
Each vessel participating in
the IESSNS carries out sampling for a core monitoring program
The Icelandic crew are carrying out additional sampling for various national and international research projects This year's projects are:
Each year, following the survey, participants from the six vessels will meet, compile the catch numbers, acoustic data, and environmental data from all vessels, and analyze the data.
Information about the survey (design, coverage, sampling programme) and the survey results (including age-segregated biomass index for mackerel, herring, and blue whiting) are first presented at the stock assessment meeting of the ICES Working Group on Widely Distributed Stocks (WGWIDE).
Results of the 2019 IESSNS survey will be made publicly available during the 2019 WGWIDE meeting scheduled for 28 August–3 September. The results of the 2018 IESSNS survey are available to view on the blog entry for 21 July.
This work contributes to ICES science priority on Observation and exploration which involves monitoring and exploring the seas and oceans to track changes in the environment and ecosystems and to identify resources for sustainable use and protection.
Anna Olafsdottir, survey leader, tagging lumpfish on the Icelandic section of the International Ecosystem Summer Survey in the Nordic Seas.