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The fishery investigations in northern polar waters carried out by the Norwegian Fishery Administration have since 1933 been concentrated solely on the deep sea banks off the west coast of Spitsbergen in order to develop and support the commercial fishery which has come into existence here. The fishery investigations carried out annually since 1923 were during a series of years mainly centered upon the waters around Bear Island, with the intention of opening these waters for the commercial fishery, which also succeeded. But the Norwegian fishery interests stretch over the vast area of the Barents Sea - Jan Mayen - Southeast Greenland, and several cruises have been untertaken also in these waters in order to get a survey of the fishery conditions. On all these cruises fishing vessels or sealing vessels leased for the purpose have been employed, the majority of them being of about 50 gross tons, but also larger vessels have been used. On all the cruises the essential work has of course been to carry out practical fishing experiments, to collect biological and oceanographical material and to obtain information on depth and bottom conditions. Besides these primary tasks we have collected botanical and geological material in localities incidentally visited, and from which little or no material of this kind previously had been collected, as for instance Southeast Greenland, Jan Mayen and many places in the Svalbard area. My coworker on nearly all these cruises, mag. sci. EINAR KOEFOED, has through his wide knowledge and interest added to the value of the material collected. We have also had the opportunity to visit the lonely, arctic Hope Island which lies in the Barents Sea about 115 miles due east of the southern point of Spitsbergen. After my visit to the southern part of Hope Island in 1924 the results were published in the Skrifter om Svalbard og Ishavet, Vol. I, no. 10, Oslo 1926. During our later fishery investigations in these waters in 1929 and 1930 I had the opportunity to visit also the northern part of the island. During these latter landings I have taken a number of photographs and measured some heights on the island. According to these measurements it has been possible to draw the equidistances more correctly than on my sketch map of 1924. The localities which have been paid most attention in 1929 and 1930 are Hermansenskardet (Hermansen Gap) with Småhumpen (Small Hummock), ancl Bråstadskardet (Bråstad Gap) with Lyngefjellet (Lynge Hill). Some measurements of the sun's altitude were also taken. The distance between the south and north points, and the distances between the different mountains and gaps were determined by sailing to and from along the coast and using the patent log. On the basis of the observations taken in 1924 and in 1929-1930 I have made a new sketch map of Hope Island (fig. 36). On this new sketch map the south point has been shifted 4 miles to the south and 1 mile to the west. Hope Island is 18 miles long, i. e. 2 miles shorter than on the previous sketch map, and the angle formed by the longitudinal direction of the island with the meridian is somewhat larger. The measurements of the sun's altitude taken at one and the same spot on various occasions show differences on account of bad horizon, and I have therefore been compelled to use the mean values. On account of the varying tide currcnts I have also had to use the mean of the distances sailed along the coast from the south to the north points. These investigations on Hope Island have been carried out when the opportunity arose, and they must be considered only as a small contribution to the discription of the island. An accurate survey of Hope Island is still lacking. In accounts dealing with the whaling period in Spitsbergen waters walrus is mentioned at Hope Island. Walrus is not found at the island nowadays, although single specimens may be encountered here as well as in many other localities in the Svalbard area, and even at the Norwegian coast. The great quantities of skeletal fragments of walrus found at Koefoed Point might be remains from walrus slaughtered in the whaling period. However, by a closer study of these remains I am mostly inclined to believe that a catastrophe has occurred here once or repated times. The skeletal fragments are found partly scattered on the soil surface, but a great part of them are overgrown by vegetation. The size of the craniums shows that they belong to walrus of all age-groups, even new-borns. In many craniums the tusks are fixed in their proper place. As a whole I got the impression that these skeletal fragments were not remains of slaughtered animals. If, however, a natural catastrophe has occurred it might be explained thus: Near the south point of Hope Island the Koefoed point juts out eastwards as a low, grass-clad spit of land with a flat beach. Steep mountain sides mark the bounds on all other sides of this point. A large herd of walrus has been assembled on Koefoed Point during a strong and protracted gale blowing on the shore. This gale has pushed the drift-ice ashore, piling it up into such a high ice-wall that it has been impossible for the Walrus to escape into the sea. The herd has become enclosed for so long time that all the animals ultimately have died from hunger. Hope Island is assumed to be discovered by the Dutchman RIJP who called the island "Visch Eylandt" because he should have found much fish at the southern part of the island. Possibly RIJP by "Visch" meant whales. This mode of expression was at that time common among the whalers, and is even used today by the Norwegian whalers. RIJP was, however, on a voyage of discovery and he was perhaps no whaler, so it is possible that he by "Visch" really meant fish, i. e. cod or haddock or possibly capelan. When we have visited Hope Island we have never seen any indication of fish near the shore, but it is possible that under certain conditions shoals of capelan can be washed ashore, or that cod and haddock can be present in very shallow water near the island. In the 1870-ies great shoals of cod were found near the beach in the fjords of Spitsbergen and Bear Island, and something similar may have occurred at that time at Hope Island. On August 26. 1923, while steering southwards from Frans Josef land with the M/C "Blåfjell", we encountered on the bank due east of Hope Island a great number of whales gorging in Euphausiidæ and capelan. With a small seine we succeeclecl in catching some hundred liters of capelan. Using the capelan as bait we caught a quantity of cod on long-lines in the same locality. This experiment was repeated a few days later on the edge of the bank southeast of Hope Island, and here very large catches of cod were made. However, these catches were made rather far from the island and in comparatively deep water, namely about 100 fathoms. Also on some occasions after 1923 our fishing experiments on the bank southeast of Hope Island have shown that fish could be found here, and in the last years this fishing region has also been visited by ordinary fishing vessels. When the fishermen get better aquainted with the conditions on Hope Island they may occasionally and under certain weather conditions possibly find it advantageous to seek anchorage to the lee of the island while fishing in this region. It is possible that in the future a meteorological station will be needed on Hope Island, and for this purpose the island seems well suited. In this case Hope Island will be utilised in the same way as the small and lonely Bear Island and Jan Mayen. If there cannot be found very valuable minerals on Hope Island it can hardly be exploited in any other way than for winter hunting or for purposes indicated above. The population of white and blue foxes will perhaps not stand reduction every year, perhaps only every second or third year. It is possible that an interchange occasionally takes place through migration of foxes across the ice from Edge Island or conversely. As for the polar bear the case is somewhat different, as it does not inhabit the island all the year round. The polar bear visits the island together with the drift-ice. It is only a few single individuals, perhaps some quite inexperienced young bears, which let the ice drift away from the island without jumping on to it in time. They stay on the island, often vegetating for long periods in summer, till the drift-ice again touches the shore.
SeriesFiskeridirektoratets skrifter, Serie Havundersøkelser
vol 6 no 6