MFRI Suggests a Total Ban on Langoustine Fishing

Iceland‘s Marine & Freshwater Research Institude (MFRI) has suggested a total ban on langoustine fishing in 2022 and 2023.

Langoustine numbers in the country‘s fisheries have been extremely low in the past few years. The size of the langoustine population has shrunk by 27% since 2016 and this year, the total catch of langoustine was the smallest ever recorded.

See also: Langoustine Numbers at Record Low

Because of the declining population, MRFI introduced significant fishing limitations on langoustine last year, which entailed a ban on fishing more langoustine than needed to maintain scientific research. If their new suggestions will be heeded, no lobster fishing will be allowed for at least two years to protect the population, not even for scientific purposes.

The MRFI has also suggested a ban on bottom trawling in defined areas in Breiðamerkurdjúp, Hornafjarðardjúp and Lónsdjúp, in order to protect the langoustine.

Langoustine may disappear from the Icelandic market

Langoustine is the only species of lobster that can be found in Iceland’s fisheries. The species is mostly caught in the fisheries off the south coast of Iceland, by companies based in Höfn, Þorlákshöfn and Vestmannaeyjar.  It is considered a delicacy in the country and is commonly eaten at Christmas and other festive occasions. Through the years, langoustine has been a popular dish at the country‘s seafood restaurants.

See also: Poor Langoustine Season Could Mean Restaurant Shortage

Scientist do not know what has caused of the decline of the langoustine stocks around Iceland. In an interview with RÚV, a deep-sea specialist at MRFI said that full recovery of the langoustine population would take at least five to ten years. He warned that if the langoustine population fails to recover, it may disappear completely from the Icelandic market.

Project Aims to Develop Sexless Farmed Salmon

salmon farming fish farming fish farm salmon farm Bíldudalur - Arnarfjörður - Arnarlax - laxeldi

The Marine and Freshwater Institute is attempting to breed a new kind of farmed salmon, that is, one without any sex. RÚV reports that the idea behind this is to prevent farmed salmon from becoming sexually mature and thus being able to spawn with the naturally occurring local salmon population. If this experiment is successful, the result would also be applied to farmed Arctic char populations, 15 – 20% of which reaches sexual maturity before they are harvested.

“This is what’s called gene suppression; there are certain substances that we use on roe and once we do, certain genes that can determine what sex a fish is don’t get expressed. And thus are the fish sexless…,” says Ragnar Jóhannsson, the Institute’s Director of Aquaculture.

This is not considered genetic modification, since the fish’s genetic makeup isn’t touched. Rather, the expression of mRNA, which controls the production of proteins that are connected to sexual maturation. This is done by introducing substrates into cells. The project is being undertaken in collaboration with StofnFiskur, an organization involved in aquaculture breeding and genetics, and the University of Maryland, which holds the copyright on the process.

Ragnar believes the method is more promising than experiments with tri-chromosome triploid fish, as it involves less intervention. “What seems to have been the biggest problems with the tri-chromosome fish is that there have been more deformations and death and that seems to be because they can’t tolerate temperatures that are high or too low as well. And we have more than enough low temperatures here in Iceland.”

The project is still in the testing phase and no firm conclusions are expected for at least three years. “This naturally means that if we can produce fish that are sexless, there won’t be any danger if they get into rivers that they interfere with the naturally occurring fish,” says Ragnar.