[05.05.2004] To enhance sampling capability on rough ground, MAR-ECO charters the Norwegian commercial longliner MS Loran - which operates longlines, traps and nets Substantial support from Norwegian fishing industry partners and public agencies/authorities facilitated this operation. MS Loran will work alongside RV G.O.Sars in July 2004.
MS Loran. Photo: Margareth Kjerstad
Commercial fishing technologies and know-how are important to science, especially when focusing on areas that are out of the range of normal scientific sampling gears. The mid-Atlantic Ridge is rough rocky ground, essentially a mountain range, not an area that a trawl skipper would chose for operating expensive bottom-towed gears. Since passive gears, such as baited longlines and traps, can often be placed in areas normally inaccessible to active gears like trawls, it has been a goal for MAR-ECO to utilize the latest within longline and trap technology to enhance the sampling capability during the 2004 field season. Longlines and traps catch other species than those captured by active gears such as trawls, and are less destructive to bottom fauna than many other fishing gears.
Norwegian longliner Loran joins project
To optimize sampling, especially of larger mobile fish species, the professional Norwegian longliner MS Loran with state of the art equipment will be operating together with the RV G.O. Sars for 22 days during Leg 2 of the cruise in 2004. The longliner will operate longlines and traps within specified depth ranges and sub-areas, and take a scientific crew of four. This sampling strategy would significantly increase the areas available for sampling and the size range of many of the species caught.
MS Loran. Photo: Gjermund Langedal
Fishing with longlines in deep waters requires skilled and experienced fishermen and boats and equipment adjusted for fisheries in such areas. Therefore, collaboration with a commercial longliner will be essential. MS Loran, operating from her home port of Godøy in the mid-Norway heartland of high-seas longline fishing, has previous experience from fishing on the mid-Atlantic Ridge and slope areas of the North Atlantic. She has a crew of 15, and operates an autoline system and gillnets. Hooks are baited automatically with pieces of mackerel, saithe or squid, and the vessel can work around the clock in most sea conditions. Samples will be sorted and frozen onboard.
Sponsors of the longliner effort
Chartering the longliner is a shared responsibility between Norway and USA. Of the 22 days, Norwegian partners funds 17 days and the US National Marine Fisheries Service the remaining 5 days.
MAR-ECO has appreciated greatly the assistance of the Norwegian Fishermen’s Association and the Norwegian Fishing Vessel Owner’s Association in the efforts to finance the longliner operation. A range of sponsors have provided support and the operation is fully financed by external partners.
- STATOIL ASA: provides free fuel and lubricants for entire operation
- NORMARINE ASA: provides suitable bait at discount rates
- SUNNMØRE AND ROMSDAL FISKESALSLAG: direct financial support
- THE NORWEGIAN FISHING VESSEL OWNER’S ASSOCIATION (‘Fiskebåt’): direct financial support
- MUSTAD: provides fish hooks
- DYRKORN: sponsored with fishing longline, traps and discount on gillnets
- Fiskeri- og Havbruksnæringens Forskningsfond (Norwegian foundation managing industry-derived funds in support of fishery and aquaculture research): direct financial support for the operation at sea and subsequent analyses
- Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries (funds for fishing experiments and industry advice): direct financial support for operation
- Møre and Romsdal County: direct financial support
- Sogn and Fjordane County: direct financial suppor.
- NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, USA: charter contract for 5 days
Møre Research ASA – the MAR-ECO partner running the longliner operation
The longliner operation is an element of the overall 2004 sampling effort of MAR-ECO and as such conducted according to plans worked out by the project management and scientists. The at-sea partner in charge of the operation will be the independent research foundation Møre Research (MR) based in Ålesund. MR has considerable experience from deep-sea fishing operations and experimental fisheries, including extensive sampling for scientific investigations. In the case of MAR-ECO, MR operates in agreement with the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research and the representative of the US National Marine Fisheries Service, Dr Michael Vecchione. The experienced field-biologist Mr Jan Erik Dyb will be the PI of the longliner cruise, well supported by his onshore partner Dr Agnes Gundersen.