by Ksenia Tabakova
Fathers of today’s Nuuk fishermen were able catch cod in their “home” waters. This fish now has moved to the northern Greenlandic waters, at least for the time being. Cod loves cold and will always love it, unlike me. They are just getting too exhausted if they swim in warm waters. Did you know that their heartbeat raises if the water temperature increases for couple of degrees? Cod wants to be in balance with the environment it lives in, therefore it just cannot help itself and starts to move much faster. What a sensitive creature, and I completely understand. If I would be forced to run all the time, I would for sure want to move very soon somewhere where I can maintain my peace and lie on a sofa with book in my hand.
I think I am more like mackerel, which prefers temperate climate. Looks like in Greenland surface water became “mackerel-friendly”, so this daring fish seizes opportunity to expand its sphere of influence (also known in science as habitat). For only four years mackerel’s share in Greenland’s export grew from solid zero percent till striking twenty three! Starting from 2014 mackerel not just drifts to Greenland from its birthplace, but completes its life cycle including spawning in the Greenlandic waters. Most probably mackerel is unaware how big influence it has on the local economy, but heads in Ministry of Fishing, Hunting and Agriculture are occupied with finding a compromise between old agreements on mackerel management and new reality where mackerel is everywhere and is here to stay. On paper, current fishing quota is factually overfishing. Now it is the job of the Ministry is to keep both biologists and fishermen happy about the catch numbers.
As to fishermen of Greenland, the prospects looks promising. We scientists are always worried about change, but for them all new is as natural as always. The bottom line is that they have families that they have to provide to, and catching mackerel is just what they need.
I have to admit, it was mind-opening to learn about the attitude of Inuit people towards environmental changes. I welcomed the fact that my way of thinking was challenged. Now I should think where I can find mackerel from Greenland to support local economy.