The ocean is a natural resource for Icelanders in a broad sense and fish is one of the most important product we export. Despite increased technology in fisheries; fishing still involves various dangers and the fishing companies’ costs have gone up; especially due to increases in fuel prizes. It is thus important to decrease danger and costs in the fishing industry. This is the goal for Guðrún Marteinsdóttir, Professor in Fisheries Sciences. She currently works with Kai Logemann, Project Manager at the Institute of Life and Environmental Sciences (LUVS), and others on developing a new information system that expedites fishing in many ways and increases security.
„The need for accurate information on ocean conditions has increased steadily in line with increased cost of fishing companies and traffic on the ocean. Each hour spent on looking for fish or the right conditions for trawl fishing can cost up to ISK 100 thousand or more. The development of our information system will adequately respond to this need,” says Marteinsdóttir.
The new information system HISA (hydrodynamic information system for the North Atlantic), is used to predict ocean conditions, such as wave height, temperature and currents, as well as providing information on stratification and distribution of fishing stock. The design process emphasises collaboration with the industry and several fishing companies (Huginn, Vinnslustöðin, HB Grandi and Síldarvinnslan) participate in the project. Furthermore, the University of Iceland collaborates with the Icelandic Meterological Office, the Marine Research Instititue, and IMR Icelandic Meteorology Research on system development.
The inspiration for the information system was a special model developed to draw up a picture of ocean currents and flow around Iceland. “Kai Logemann’s Post Doc in physical oceanography is the primus motor in developing the hydrodynamic ocean model called CODE,” says Marteinsdóttir and adds: “The information provided by the model is clearly important for us who live here and base our living on the ocean’s resources.”
The development of the hydrodynamic ocean model took seven years, but it runs in very high resolution in 3D and provides information on ocean flow every three hours. The model and the information system will together provide information on where it is safest to sail and fish productively.
“The existence of the model and the information system will open countless possibilities in research on ocean organisms, as well as the practical use predicting ocean conditions. Projects are already in place showing the distribution of fish stocks taking environmental factors into consideration in each location; adding to our understanding of environmental impact on distribution, growth and development of the main commercial fish in Iceland,” concludes Marteinsdóttir. She says that the company Marsýn ehf has been founded to continue the development of the information system and the hydrodynamic model. The owners are among others the University of Iceland and IMR Icelandic Meteorology Research.