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Náttúra og náttúrutilfeingi


Stock structure of the Atlantic Mackerel (Scomber scombrus L.) An ecological time scale approach to solve stock(s) management.


Hóraldur Joensen

Náttúruvísindadeildin, Fróðskaparsetur Føroya

Aðrir luttakarar:
Dr. Jan Arge Jacobsen, Dr. Christophe Pampoulie, Dr. Guðmundur J. Óskarsson, Dr. Anna K. Daníelsdóttir, Dr. Sarah Helyar, Kristinn Ólafsson, Guðbjörg Ólafsdóttir Dr. Sigurlaug Skirnisdóttir, Páll Guðmundsson, Sindri Sigurðsson, Anfinn Olsen, Dr. Aril Slotte, Dr. Geir Dahle, Dr. Frode Lingaa, Dr. Francois Grégoire.


Samlaður kostnaður:
6.021.000 kr.

Stuðul úr Granskingargrunninum:
600.000 kr.

This Nordic collaboration network will bring together representatives from the mackerel industry and scientists of different fields of expertise from relevant Nordic countries to solve a problem for the industry in order to improve the management of mackerel fisheries in the North Atlantic Ocean. Combining genetic studies, with information on catch location and biology, will give a clearer picture of the various stocks and shed light on the stock mixture in the North Atlantic. The project, Stock structure of the Atlantic Mackerel (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 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. The genetic tool that will be developed in this project will enable us to discriminate stocks in mixed fisheries for the fishing industry, and to develop a more realistic approach for fisheries management, e.g. an ecological time scale approach. The relevant stakeholders in participating countries will be involved and informed of the process of the project. The discriminating tool is based on a new sequence technology that will enable us to develop genetic markers in a more economical way. There are ten organizations and industrial partners that come from three Nordic countries and Canada. The mackerel is a major fish resource for all the involved countries. SAM is designed to 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. Faroese 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.

The project strategic objectives A. To develop new genetic markers using state of the art genome sequencing technique. B. Utilise the resulting genetic markers to analyse samples from different spawning and fishing grounds for mackerel around Iceland, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Canada and adjacent waters for their genetic diversity and stock identification. C. To build a genetic database, including other biological and environmental data for Atlantic Mackerel stocks in the North Atlantic Ocean. D. The beneficiaries of SAM are: fishing industries, governments, international organizations, fisheries agencies, fishermen, scientists and other stakeholders involved in the management of living marine resources.

This joint project (SAM) is of paramount importance for the industry and academia in this country, because of the substantial knowledge, competence and technology transfer to the budding genetic research environments in the Faroe Islands.

Final: SAM consortium has made a massive and distinguished piece of research work in collecting and analysing samples from the distribution range of Atlantic mackerel during spawning and feeding time, from 2010 to 2015. Although lack of time prohibited genotyping all the samples collected during the present study (more than 6,000 samples were collected altogether), samples are now available for future larger projects seeking comprehension of the dynamic of the Atlantic mackerel stock(s) and change in the feeding distribution and composition.

At present, both of the developed genetic techniques, microsatellites and SNPs, could clearly distinguish the North-western and the North-eastern spawning components of Atlantic mackerel, and therefore these methods allow a proper assessment of the origin of mackerel at feeding grounds, e.g. whether mackerel feeding in Icelandic and surrounding waters are of Canadian or European origin. As matter of fact, individuals collected from the feeding aggregations (Iceland, Faroe Islands, Norway and Greenland) could clearly be assigned to their potential spawning grounds of origin, and both SNPs and microsatellite loci analyses revealed that the Atlantic mackerel in these feeding aggregations were only composed of European Atlantic mackerel, during the period of investigation. Although not specifically shown in the final report, there is a great inherent potential for Mixed Stock Assessment (MSA) and Individual Assignment (IA) using SNP loci based techniques. The present results show clear differentiation between the stocks. In terms of fisheries, it is now clear that, during the last 8 years, Atlantic mackerel present in Icelandic and Greenlandic waters, around the Faroe Islands and in the Norwegian Sea have originated from European spawning grounds. However, the Atlantic mackerel remains a poorly known species when it comes to its dynamic, biology and its interactions with other species, both as prey and predator. Due to lack of discrimination power of the developed microsatellites, further studies should be performed on the genetic structure using SNPs. Further SNP-studies in the near future would increase the understanding of important issues like the genetic variation on the European spawning grounds, cohort effect, putative population structure and several other aspects of mackerel biology.


Scientific Publications:
Olafsdottir G., Olafsson K., Skirnisdottir S., Oskarsson G. J., Kohlbach D., Franklinsdottir H., Klitgaard Kvaavik C. E., Morneau R., Chevrier A., Pampoulie C., Helyar S., and Danielsdottir A. K., 2013. Isolation and characterisation of thirty microsatellite loci for Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus L.). Conservation Genetic Resources 5, 491-494.
Two more papers are in preparation

Scientific Presentations:
SAM results have also been presented in the following conference:
ICES 2013 Pampoulie C., Óskarsson G., Ólafsdóttir G., Skírnisdóttir S., Ólafsson K., Jacobsen J. A., Joensen H., Siegstad H., Olsen A., Sigurðsson S., Guðmundsson P., Grégoire F., Curti K., Dahle G., Slotte A., Helyar S., and Daníelsdóttir A. K., 2013. Journey of the Atlantic Mackerel into Icelandic waters: Can genetics tell us about its origin? ICES CM/N01, presented at the ICES conference in Harpa in September 2013, Reykjavík, Iceland.

POLSHIFT 2015 Helyar S. J., Óskarsson G., Ólafsdóttir G., Skírnisdóttir S., Ólafsson K., Daníelsdóttir A. K., Jacobsen, J. A., Joensen H., Siegstad H., Jansen T., Olsen A., Sigurðsson S., Guðmundsson P., Grégoire F., Curti K., Dahle G., Slotte A., and Pampoulie C., 2015. Genetic structure and population assignment in Atlantic mackerel. POLSHIFT conference 14th-15th of April 2015, Reykjavík, Iceland.

Poster at the ICES 2015: Helyar S. J., Óskarsson G., Ólafsdóttir G., Ólafsson K., Skírnisdóttir S., Jacobsen J. A., Joensen H., Dahle G., Slotte A., Jansen T., Siegstad H., Daníelsdóttir A. K., Guðmundsson P., Sigurðsson S., Olsen A., Castonguay M., Curti K., O‘Hea B., Masse J., and Pampoulie C., 2015. Atlantic mackerel: determining the origins of the feeding migrations and applications to management.

The progress of the SAM project has also been publicized regularly in radio, TV, newspapers and websites, national and international.

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