Jón Kristjánsson: Professional information

Icelandic, born in 1943, Fisheries biologist from the University of Oslo, Norway 1971.

Scientist at the Institute of Freshwater Fisheries in Iceland 1971-1986. Lake and river Management, Arctic char, Atlantic Salmon, Brown trout. Ecological studies, fishing gear development. Independent scientist since 1987, fish farming, fish farming insurance, marine fish and shrimp studies, marine gear development, fisheries management in general. Shrimp research at the Flemish Cap 1995-2002. Adviser on Fisheries management for the Minister of Fisheries in Faeroe Islands 2001 and also the fishing industry in 2002-2004. Leader of a major project on Arctic char ecology in a Reykjavik city lake 2001-2004. Worked for fishermen in N-Ireland and Scotland 2003-5, fish studies in the Irish Sea and the North Sea. Adviser for Salmon Fishermen in Ireland 2007. Adviser on management in major Salmon rivers in Iceland until 2018, gradually retiring.


I have been working with fish as a scientist and and as a fisherman since 1970 and my work has always been practically orientated: To help farmers and fishermen to get the most out of their lakes, either by maximising their yield / income by commercial net fishing or combination of net fishing and sports fishing. Not always easy things to combine, because the fish caught by the nets is "The Fish" the sports fishermen should have caught but didn't - they say.

Icelandic lakes are mostly inhibited by arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) and brown trout (Salmo trutta). Three spined sticklebacks are very common and eel is found in the lowland lakes on the South- and West- coast. Not to forget the Atlantic salmon of course. Some 80 rivers in Iceland have salmon in it. Sea trout and sea char are also common in the rivers.

Often the lakes contain small fish of poor quality. This is often a result of underfishing or wrong fishing methods. One of the main tasks have been to cure such lakes and improve the quality of the fish.

This includes special test fishing studies in order to understand the mechanisms working in the fish populations; interactions and competition and effects of various fishing strategies.

The most common harvesting method is to use gill nets with rather large meshes, the purpose being to catch the biggest and most valuable fish. In the "old days", before the time of fishery rules, the farmers used to catch fish with all kinds of methods where and when possible. Seines were used at spawning places and rivers were dragged with nets and seines . All these old methods were later found dangerous and harmful and were finally banned.

Looking back, the catches was much better then, even in the long run, with these harmful methods.

When "fishery management" was "invented" everything started to go downhill. It started in the lakes 100 years ago and in the oceans 25 years ago. In the lakes we started to turn this around again 30-40 years ago, but the marine people are still in the precautionary phase. The catches in the marine environment are still declining, calling for even more restrictions! There seems to have been inverse correlation between number of fisheries scientists and catch over the years.

An old fisherman said to me: "Fisheries scientists created the fishing problem. Now their solution is to close down the fisheries."

In order to be able to fish more intensively in lakes and to get material for scientific purposes, I have put much of my effort in improving and adapting common fishing gear and "inventing" new ones. "Inventing", means to take a large gear like Danish seine known from ocean fishing, change and convert it so it can be used by two persons in a 5 m long boat in fresh water. Hauls up to 800 kilos of char have been taken in 2 m deep lowland lakes.

On a good day. 800 kilos of Arctic char caught with Danish seine in a shallow lowland lake.

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