Jon Kristjansson's Fishbox:

Fisheries Scientist, Reykjavik, Iceland

e-mail : jonkr aa tt mmedia ddo ott is

My professional background

Below is a table with links to some stuff.

Updated: 5. May 2020

Fisheries Management and ITQ's Selective fishing damages stocks - Fishing News
Stock Recruitment relationship The Tragedy of our Legacy- Selective fishing is Wrong
Shrimp Electrofishing
Salmon management in Ireland 2007 Fishing Videos
Faroe Cod Biologi Tom Hay's anti-EU advice Video
Iceland ITQ, management, results and effects M. Ben-Yami: Criticizing Science in London 2011
Ageing of Baltic Cod 2010 - Problem solved! Seine Fishing-snurrevad
Baltic Cod Ageing 2014 Failure of Fisheries management, empirical evidence
Baltic Cod Ageing 2018 Seine-How to make
Baltic Cod Ageing 2019
Interview in Fishing News International 2011
Canada - Northern Cod

Articles and Reports

Old web:

2009: - Still no recovery of Cod stocks in EU waters

In 2003, when I did some work in Scotland and N-Ireland I publicly stated in reports and interviews that reducing effort and selecting big fish by increasing mesh size would NOT help the cod stock to "recover". On the contrary, it would worsen the situation as the fish were generally slim and starving. Now, 6 years later, it is all the same, the stock situation has never been worse, still they suggest more cuts, stiffer selection, protected areas and even days at sea on top of the quota. All this despite the fact that most of the fleet has been scrapped. The possible mechanical fishing effort of the existing fleet is only a fraction of what it was in the seventies, - When all was good.

This "more restictions" management is wrong. I suspect the "science" to be a tool to order limitations so the Quota system can be maintained. Reduced landings lead to higher fish prices and more money for the Quota "owners" that hire out their quotas, as they do here in Iceland. The science is used to make fear, like the pope did in the middle ages. "Who will be responsible for catching the last fish?"

The project in N-Ireland was suddenly ditched in 2006 when we had put up the lab and started sampling fish from the market. The reason is still unknown to me but I suspect the "science" felt the boat rolling and put their fingers in. The report we wrote Alternative Management Plan for the Irish Sea. was never used I suspect, but it is still very relevant.

May, 2008: It has finally been recognized, by "top level scientists", that the orthodox methods of fisheries managment and ’stock rebuilding’ have been wrong, according to Fishing News 25. April 2008. The author of this web has maintained this for decades, as can be witnessed by numerous articles and reports on this webside. What will happen now? Will the orthodox group still bury their heads in the sand or will they turn the wheel 180 degrees? Will the politicians let them do so, or will they continiue to use wrong methods to destroy the fishing industry? We will have to wait and see.

Read the Fishing News article below:

Letting young fish escape creates instability and ’boom and bust’ fisheries says top level scientific report.

- Fishing News 25. April 2008:- A TOP level scientific report says that normal fisheries management techniques of targeting bigger, mature fish and imposing minimum mesh and landing sizes to allow young fish to escape is "exactly wrong". More...

A view of a Fisherman: Why cod stocks keep declining

In an article in Fishing News 27. April 2007 Skipper Kenneth Patterson of Kilkeel puts forward an alternative view of fisheries management:

Since the year 2000 the Irish Sea has been subject to “A cod recovery program” implemented by the EU, under the direction of the CFP. The cod recovery program was initially conceived to halt the decline in fishing industries, by increasing the abundance of fish in our seas. So the question has to be asked, “What went wrong?”

Fisheries Scientists have long held the view that commercial fishing is responsible for stock decline, holding to the view that fishermen are simply taking too many fish from the seas. They conclude that fewer boats and more selective fishing gears, which take only the more mature fish from the seas will see an increase in fish populations. If this opinion is correct, after six years of closures and the scrapping of numerous vessels, along with other measures such as mesh increases and the reduction in the number of days vessels are allowed to engage in fishing, surely the Irish Sea should be bubbling with the abundance of fish contained in it, and yet the scientists can report, ”No significant increase.” ...

... Conservationist or selective fishing is being promoted as the way forward with the emphases being placed on ways of making fishing gears more selective, or changing to more selective methods of fishing. Many of the national supermarket chains support these endeavours, in order to be seen as “green”, usually in a knee jerk reaction, after they have faced public pressure through the high profile actions of so-called “eco-warriors”. These ideas appear appealing but do they work? Selective fishing by its very name is ecologically destructive. It influences biodiversity upsetting the natural balance of the marine ecosystem with the possibility of catastrophic collapse....

Kenneth’s paper was presented at the Symposium on Cod recovery held in Edinburgh March 2007. Read the full article here:

2006: Is Cod reappearing at Newfoundland?

Fishermen have reported that cod has reappeared in shallow water, close to the cost. Scientists partly agree on that, but say that there is no cod on the banks in deep water... Read more

- Old paper: Why do Cod stocks oscillate?

As a follow up to Menakhems report (see below), here is a paper from a Symposium in Bergen on the subject. This is a brief translation of the Norwegian original published as a symposium paper.

- Observations on Fishery Management of the Faroes -

In the Faroes, an effort based fishery management system has been implemented for 10 years.

This year the Faroe fishing industry asked Menakhem Ben Yamy to give advice on the fishery management in Faroes. He has now presented his report.. Here is Menakhem’s report (188 kb Word)

Fishing News 19. May 2006: Attack on North Sea management

Current system is 'lunacy'

A SCOTTISH MEP has praised the work of a scientist and an Icelandic MP and Faroese MP who believe that the current North Sea management system is counterproductive... Read more..

Presentation at Fisheries Committee meeting

I was invited, together with Jörgen Niclasen , former fishery minister in Faroes, and Siggi Thordarson MP from Iceland, to give a presentation on stock-recruitment relationship, the biological principles behind the Faroe fishery system, describe the system and how it has exposed the flaws of the advice given by ICES and the orthodox biology in general.

Meeting in Peterhead, February 2006

I was invited to Peterhead Schotland by FAL , to give a lecture on fisheries managment, why it fails in almost every instance. Mr. Sigurdur Thordarson, an MP from Iceland, was accompanying me, and he told the fishermen how the Icelandic ITQ system has destroyed most fishing villages in Iceland, as the fishing rights continue to concentrate on still fewer large companies.

I am still of the opinion that the reason for the collapse and negative results in 'rebuilding' the cod stocks is a result of reduced fishing pressure and selective fishing, i.e. protecting 'juveniles'. The common factor for most cod stocks is that the fish are starving... More

We visited the fish market and verified that there was a lot of fish to bee seen, catches were reported to be good and it was the fishermen's opinion that the state of the white fish stocks were good, the only problem was the extreme conservation politics, - they were not allowed to fish. There was a lot of good fish on the market, extinct cod amongst other... More

EU backing for first `alternative' scheme - green light for Irish Sea research project - (Fishing News, 8. July 2005)-

IRISH Sea fishermen are launching their own scientific project to examine the selectivity of prawn trawls and altematives to orthodox fisheries science, reports Tim Oliver.

Members of the Anglo North Irish FPO have received backing from the EU, Northem Ireland fisheries department (DARD), Seafish and scientists to set up what is believed to be the first such initiative in Europe to be started by a fishermens organisation.... More..

Still more Criticism of the Orthodox Fishery biology. (October 2004)

In Fishing News September Issue, there is an article written by 'Anonymous' on the stock assesment and the science behind it. Very interesting article, which gives me the hope that the paradigm shift is not so far away. Here is the article, have a pleasant reade!

Advice on management in Faroe Islands 2004

Again I was called to give advice on the fisheries in 2004. This time by the fishing industry. This was in June and ICES had recommended total ban on cod fishing, as a compromise, two third cut of fishing days in order to 'build up' the cod stock at a slower rate. I recommended an increase in fishing days, because the demersal stocks, especially the cod were retracting because food was lacking, the individual fish were thin. I wrote this article in Fishing News to explain my advice.

Response from Lowestoft !

Dr. Joe Horwood, Defra's Chief Fisheries Science Advicer, Lowestoft, has responded on what I said at the NFFO-DEFRA London Workshop on Fishery Science 12TH November, on my reports on the Management in the North Sea and on my article in Fishing News: 'Fish stocks hard to keep them healthy'. Dr. Mike Armstrong, DARD in N-Irelend has also responded on my report on the Irish Sea. (My reports and articles are here: Articles and Reports).

I have put all the critics from Joe Hoewood and Mike Armstrong in a special folder.

My opinion is that they have not disproved any of my theses. They try to contradict, or put out some discredits but the arguments are not convincing.

Workshop in Fraserborough Scotland 14. November 2003.

Following the very successful fisheries workshop at Kilkeel organised by the Anglo North Irish Fish Producers' Organisation on 5 September 2003, NFFO arranged a workshop in London 12. November and The Fishermen's Association Limited in Scotland arranged another workshop in Fraserborough...

North Sea fish have shrunk

This is a title of a news article in Nature, where a new research shows that "fish in the North Sea have got smaller and overfishing is probably to blame" researchers say. "Fish smaller than about 30 centimetres have actually increased in abundance," says ecologist Niels Daan of the Netherlands Institute for Fisheries Research in Ijmuiden. The netting of the biggest fish — many of which, such as cod and hake, eat their own species — is probably allowing more small fish to survive, says Daan. Fish species that never grow larger than 30 cm are also increasingly abundant. "Fishing has affected the community to the degree that the entire species composition is changing," adds Daan.

This is manifesting what I said about starving fish in the North Sea, after my visit to Scotland earlier this year (further down this page). The North Sea suffers from underfishing and/or selective fishing, that is selective removal of big fish and protection of small 'juvenile' fish. The net result is the same, overcrowding of fish with stagnant growth and small size at maturity. Please read my report on the 'Management of Cod and Haddock in the North Sea' and other articles further down this page.

The Irish Sea

Official landings of Cod from the Irish sea have been declining in the recent years. As a result, measures have been taken to reduce cod fishing and a so called Cod recovery (conservation) plan is in force; Certain areas have been closed for cod fishing part of the year. Recently, ICES recommended closure of all fisheries for cod as a targeted species or by-catch. The fishermen maintain that both the cod- and the haddock stocks are in a good shape and such drastic measures are unnecessary. The question remains: Has the cod disappeared? If so, how can we get it back. If not, why this mismatch in opinions?

In order to try to answear this question, the Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers Organisation Limited asked me to look through different scientific reports and to do a survey by questioning fishermen and scientists and go to sea, in order to experience the fishery myself.

I was in Ireland 3-14. June to interview people and I spent four days fishing on the trawler 'Sparkling Sea', where I also collected age samples from cod and haddock. Short to say, the state of the Cod and Haddock stocks in the Irish Sea seemed to be normal and I came to the following conclusions:

1. The cod- and haddock- stocks in the Irish Sea are considered to be normal and not endangered.

2. Total mortality is probably overestimated, natural mortality underestimated and fishing mortality grossly overestimated.

3. Landings are underestimated and the cod- and haddock- stocks therefore underestimated.

This gives totally wrong data on all stock parameters and makes the management useless, even if the theories behind the 'modelling' management were correct.

Read the full report here (235 kb PDF).

Workshop in Kilkeel N-Ireland

I presented the results on Friday, 5 September 2003 and was joined at a workshop in Kilkeel organised by ANIFPO by Dr. Rick Officer from Ireland’s Marine Institute, Sigurjon Thordarson, a Member of the Icelandic Parliament and Mr. Jorgen Niclasen, a Member of the Faeroese Parliament and the Faeroe’s former Fisheries Minister. in Kilkeel 5. September.

Here is the report from the workshop . The report was presented in Fishing News 19. September by the title: 'Challenging ICES Science'.

Cod Crisis - or Management Failure?

In the recent years the cod in the North Atlantic has been in crisis. The problem is claimed to be overfishing. Strangely, this "problem" only occurred after the introduction of 200 nm EEZ's in 1975-1976. Until that time, the fishing fleets moved from one place to another, i.e. where the fish was. They left fishing grounds that had been fished down and headed for grounds where the fishing was better. That strategy ensured that all grounds were harvested, and no nation was able to stop fishing in order to "build up" the fish stocks. In recent years, this build up policy has lead to unexpected results: Stocks have declined, overfishing is taking the blame, but, is that correct? Reduced fleets and reduced fishing power has only made the situation worse.- Could the contrary be the case? Underfishing.

Here is an article I wrote on the subject with a special reference to the demise of the Northern cod off Newfoundland and the situation in the North Sea.

Trip to Scotland

(January 2003) In October 2002, The ICES recommended closure of the cod fishery in the North Sea. They said the cod stock was near to a collapse, similar to the Northern cod at Newfoundland few years ago. In order to see this with my own eyes, I went to Scotland. Click here to see the story.

Fishing in the North Sea

(March 2003) The trip to Scotland was most interesting. The fishermen told me that Haddock was abundant everywhere. The fish I saw on the market was small, mostly 30 cm long, belonging to the 99- year class, all mature. After I had presented my opinion, that the North Sea was underfished, the Association of Scottish White Fish Producers asked me to present my view on the fishery management in a written report. I went out with a seiner to see the fishery for myself and collect some samples. Here is the report . It was presented at a meeting in Brussels in the beginning of May 2003.

Fishery management in the Faroe Islands

The economy in the Faroes is totally depending on fisheries, making some 90% of the income. They control their fishery for ground fish by days at sea system without TAC. Fluctuating catch is regarded as a reflection of natural environmental and biological conditions.

In 2001 and again in 2002 the ICES advised a cut in number of fishing days, in order to build up the spawning stocks of ground fish according to the precautionary principle. The Fisheries Minister of the Faroes asked for my view and I recommended to him not to change the number of fishing days. Here are some of my arguments and how things went out in the Faroes.

North Atlantic Cod - update 2007

Landings of Cod in the North- Atlantic are now much lower than they used to be. from 1956 until the general introduction of 200 nm EEZ's in 1976, landings from the main stocks (Greenland stock not included) was on the average 1.7 million tons per year for. In this period the fisheries were uncontrolled.

In the 20 year period after 1976 with increasing restrictions and control of the fisheries, (stock enhancement, fisheries management) the average catch dropped to 1.1 million tons/year

In Iceland, landings were 4-500 thousand tons in an uncontrolled fishery until in the seventies. Now, under ITQ system the Cod landings have dropped to 130-150 thousand tons! I have put up a Fact File on events and statistics of the Icelandic local and high seas fisheries

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