Lumpfish research

Lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus), the only member of the genus Cyclopterus, is distributed across large areas of the north east Atlantic; from the southern tip of Greenland, across the Denmark strait and up into the Norwegian and Barents Sea. Upon maturity, they migrate to coastal areas in Iceland and Norway to spawn where the females become the target of a commercial fishery. The primary aim of the lumpfish project is increase the knowledge of lumpfish to provide informed management advice which promotes the long-term sustainability of the fishery in Iceland. Many aspects of their biology are not well understood including their growth rate, age at maturity, post-spawning mortality, and reproductive cycle.


In collaboration with Biopol, tagging of lumpfish has been carried out annually since 2008. This tagging program utilizes both traditional Peterson disc tags and data storage tags. This tagging work will address a number of gaps within our knowledge of this species movement within Icelandic coastal areas, post-spawning mortality, where fish present within the Norwegian sea will spawn (Norway, Iceland, somewhere else?) and their behavior and depth distribution within the water column. The migration of lumpfish to coastal areas and their vulnerability to the fishery is intrinsically linked to their reproductive cycle thus ongoing work investigating the gonad development cycle is ongoing and will be linked with information from tagging.

Lumpfish catches are currently managed using input (e.g. number of nets, length of fishing season etc.) rather than output (e.g. total allowable catch) controls; the only fishery in Iceland which is managed in this way. Ongoing work examines the effectiveness of such an approach and how variations in specific combinations of controls (e.g. number of boats versus length of the fishing season) can affect the fishery.

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