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Most of the scientist on the trawl deck.
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2nd Cruise Diary from the NWA ecosystem Survey

This is our second cruise diary. The survey is well underway. We are now in Guinea Bissau and have been away for about one week since we left port in Conakry on the 20/10 in the evening. All together we are 17 scientists onboard and two instrument engineers.

The vessel is UN in miniature, all together 13 nationalities is represented onboard: Norway, Spain, Germany, Venezuela, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Senegal, The Gambia, Mauritania, Belgium, Switzerland and Namibia. With such a diverse group of people the boat becomes a melting pot of different languages and cultures. The atmosphere is nice, conversations in the lab and over the lunch table are a constant mixture of Norwegian (occasionally), English, Spanish, French and local African languages such as Wollof. Everything is discussed, from the local political situation, world economic crisis, local biological conditions and what to do in the next port of call.

Survey routines have settled on everyone and the work goes smoothly. With trawling and sampling going on around the clock it is 6 hours shifts for the people in the lab. The first shift starts at midnight and goes on until 6 in the morning before the next shift release them. A bit hard to get up at first, but you get used to it after a while. Once in the lab there is enough to do. During a shift normally two trawls come on deck. Once it is on deck, the size of the catch and its species composition is determined. First the catch has to be sorted, the species identified, counted and weighted. Thereafter individual fish from a number of species are length measured; biological samples are taken including length and weight, maturity stage, etc. Genetic samples are taken from some priority species.

These are later going to be analysed in a lab in Morocco. The purpose is to understand the stock structure of some of the main species in the region and determine if there are several sub populations of for instance the Sardinella species. This is a necessary knowledge for fisheries management in the various countries when managing their fisheries.

Amadeu Mendes de Almeida from Guinea Bissau is one of the scientists on the night shift. Right now we are inside his country’s territorial waters. He works for the National Research Institute, Centro de Investigação Pesqueira Aplicada (CIPA) and it is the third time he is onboard Dr. Fridtjof Nansen. First time was in 1993 with the old Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, that was replaced the year after. He is well acquainted with the survey routines and the fish stocks in his waters. He tells me that these research surveys are of great importance for the local stock assessment, as well as to determine the quotas for the foreign fleet. Countries as Spain, Portugal Korea, Russia and China have quotas. Annual ladings can be as high as 250 000 – 500 000 he says. Of this, China is fishing the most while the EU fleet is considered the most important by him because of counterpart funds received by the country that are used on research. However, since most of the fish caught by the industrial fleet is exported out of the country, the artisanal fishery in the rivers and estuaries remains much more important for the local marked.

His friend Ousmane Camara is from the Centre National des Sciences Halieutiques de Boussoura (CNSHB) in Guinea (the neighboring country in the south). They know each other well and have worked together many times. He tells me that the two guys always have been together on Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, all three times onboard, and not just that, they have also always shared the same shift, the night shift. Next time, I promised them, they will try the other shift.

Next week about this time we will be in Dakar (3/11). That is something the whole boat looks forward to. Although it is just a quick stop it gives people the opportunity to stretch their legs and get some new impressions as well as a break.


Kathrine Michalsen
454 29 971
Jens-Otto Krakstad
996 27 060