As the online-lesson on fisheries in Arctic and subarctic seas ("Northern seas, why is all the fish there?") is approaching, Hreiðar Þór Valtýsson, an expert from the University of Akureyri, Iceland, tells teachers and students what to expect.
Arctic fisheries is a wide topic, what exactly are you going to focus on?
First, I am going to explain what is so special about the northern waters that makes lots of species live here. I am going to briefly discuss the history of northern fisheries in different countries, the most common species that live here, and why the collision of cold and warm currents create the best environment for them. Then we are going to explore how climate change is affecting Arctic fisheries.
How does climate change affect the northern seas and fisheries?
Under the influence of a warming climate, species are moving north. On the one hand, Northern areas may benefit from it, because there will be more valuable species. The best example is mackarel, which moved to Icelandic waters few years ago. But on the other hand, Arctic species are likely to decline. This process will affect the food web, for example, and new predators may emerge. Diseases are more likely to spread in warmer waters. So some serious changes will happen here.
Why is it so important for students to learn more about Arctic fisheries?
Fisheries provid valuable protein and sailing experience for many maritime countries. It is still one of the most important economical activities for them, especially certain regions.
But fisheries also illustrate the importance of understanding ecosystems. We have to understand the ecosystem in order to harvest fish sustainably, which is so important nowadays with the impact of cliamte change. There is a lot of science behind it.