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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Unexpected fish and squid in the central Arctic deep scattering layer

Snoeijs-Leijonmalm, Pauline; Flores, Hauke; Sakinan, Serdar; Hildebrandt, Nicole; Svenson, Anders; Castellani, Giulia; Vane, Kim; Mark, Felix C.; Heuze, Celine; Tippenhauer, Sandra; Niehoff, Barbara; Hjelm, Joakim; Sundberg, Jonas Hentati; Schaafsma, Fokje L.; Engelmann, Ronny

Abstract

The retreating ice cover of the Central Arctic Ocean (CAO) fuels speculations on future fisheries. However, very little is known about the existence of harvestable fish stocks in this 3.3 million-square kilometer ecosystem around the North Pole. Crossing the Eurasian Basin, we documented an uninterrupted 3170-kilometer-long deep scattering layer (DSL) with zooplankton and small fish in the Atlantic water layer at 100- to 500-meter depth. Diel vertical migration of this central Arctic DSL was lacking most of the year when daily light variation was absent. Unexpectedly, the DSL also contained low abundances of Atlantic cod, along with lanternfish, armhook squid, and Arctic endemic ice cod. The Atlantic cod originated from Norwegian spawning grounds and had lived in Arctic water temperature for up to 6 years.The potential fish abundance was far below commercially sustainable levels and is expected to remain so because of the low productivity of the CAO.

Published in

Science Advances
2022, Volume: 8, number: 7, article number: eabj7536
Publisher: AMER ASSOC ADVANCEMENT SCIENCE