In collaboration with Matís and many other Nordic and Canadian partners, the Marine Research Institute (MRI) obtained a financial support from The Fisheries Research Fund of the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture (started 2011), NORA (started 2012) and the Faroese Research Council (started 2012) to study the Atlantic mackerel. The project started in 2011 and will last until December 2014. This Nordic collaboration network brings together representatives from the mackerel industry and scientists of different fields of expertise from relevant Nordic countries (Norway, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and USA). Combining genetic studies, with information on catch location and biology, this project (Stock structure of Atlantic Mackerel, called SAM) intends to give a clearer picture of the various stocks and shed light on the stock mixture in the North Atlantic. Picture showing mackerel phenotypes.
The Atlantic mackerel has been colonising the Icelandic waters since 2006 owing to change in the environmental condition which are now more favourable. SAM aims to assess the origin of the mackerel stock(s) in Icelandic, Norwegian and Faroe Islands waters, and to determine if the Northeast Atlantic mackerel is composed of one panmictic population originating from Europe or not. It will hopefully also give information on the changes in the migration pattern of the species due to potential changes in the environment, and give a better insight on the expansion of the Atlantic mackerel in the North Atlantic Ocean.
SAM is designed to help solve the debate of the Nordic mackerel industry on the stock identification of mackerel in the North Atlantic. A tool will be developed to both help the sustainable management of the mackerel stocks and to predict on the further changes in the distribution range that are foreseen with the ongoing climate change (e.g. Icelandic waters colonization). The genetic tool will be based on a more appropriate genetic approach using both neutral and functional loci information, i.e. by working on an ecological-scale time frame, which is more appropriate for fisheries management. This will be the first time that nDNA markers will be used together with biological and environmental data to solve the problem of stock identification of mackerel in the North Atlantic Ocean.
See also an interview of the project coordinator Dr. Chistophe Pampoulie at the MRI, Reykjavik