The northern bluefin tuna is one of the most valuable and endangered Atlantic fish species and almost never strays as far north as Iceland. When 12 of the giants turn up aboard and Icelandic trawler, eyebrows are raised.
The ship Baldvin Njalsson GK was performing a mid-water trawl for mackerel to the east of Iceland earlier this month and the crew were truly shocked to find 12 bluefin tuna in their nets at the end, and very few mackerel. The ship’s captain, Arnar Oskarsson told mbl.is that he has never heard of such a tuna catch in Icelandic waters before.
“We would have been surprised to get one tuna, let alone 12 of them,” the captain said. This link to mbl shows crewmember Gylfi Jonsson aboard the boat with some of the huge fish. Each bluefin tuna weighs 220-250 kilogrammes — meaning a total haul of around three tonnes.
Oskarsson is considering exporting the fish to Japan where they have been known to go for nearly EUR 300,000 each at auction. The Icelandic tuna were frozen on board the ship to minus 33 degrees centigrade, as the ship’s freezer is not capable of reaching the recommended minus 60. This will affect the value of the tuna — but they will still be worth plenty.
Icelandic waters have traditionally been too far north and too cold for the valuable bluefin tuna and any more regular tuna catches off Iceland in the future would be clear evidence of warming seas, marine biologists agree — in fact more mackerel and tuna catches have been cited by some as possible benefits to Iceland from global warming. In the last decade or so mackerel have migrated to Icelandic waters in unprecedented numbers.