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The six vessels operating in this fishery target the Atlantic herring, using midwater trawls and seines.

Herring serve as a bio-indicator of clean and oxygenated waters. Two separate populations are involved. The Norwegian-Icelandic spring spawning herring stock spawns along the coast of central Norway. Generally the larvae then drift to nursing areas along the coast of northern Norway, Russia and in the Barents Sea, where the juveniles stay until they are sexually mature at the age of four to six. 

When mature, the herring undertake large-scale feeding migrations to the waters north and east of Iceland. During winter the stock condenses into large schools in the waters east of Iceland, and during the spring it moves back to the Norwegian spawning grounds. This pattern does however vary according to changing oceanographic conditions, stock size and stock composition. The Icelandic summer spawning herring is a separate coastal stock and does not leave Icelandic waters. It also differs in that it spawns in July.

Both methods used in the fishery reduce bycatch and seabed damage. The trawl is designed and rigged to fish in midwater, including in the surface water, and is therefore not intended to come in contact with the seabed. Any inadvertent contact is extremely rare – and would risk causing expensive damage to the net. For purse seining, effective use requires that fish form dense aggregations on or close to the surface of the water.

ISF Norwegian & Icelandic herring trawl and seine vessel image © Örn Rósmann Kristjánsson