Personal recollections of Jakob Jakobsson

By Keith Brander, Emeritus, DTU Aqua, Denmark
Published: 8 February 2021

​​​My father was overwhelmed by the warmth and hospitality that he encountered when he moved to Iceland during the first "cod war" in 1959. One of the people he got to know was Jakob and they formed a firm friendship and an exclusive club; they were the only two holders of a Glasgow University athletics blue in Iceland.  Jakob had been captain of the rowing club and my father of the cross-country club.

​When I was about 15, Jakob showed me around the Marine Research Institute and I became interested in studying to be a fisheries biologist.  He also gave me an introduction to a friend of his, Ro Glover, who was director of the Continuous Plankton Survey then based in Edinburgh, where I lived. I visited their laboratory and Glover advised that I should study marine science at Bangor University. In 1965, between finishing my school leaving exams and going to Bangor, Jakob gave me my first experience of working at sea with him for six weeks on a herring survey around the north and east of Iceland on the gunboat and research ship, Aegir. It was the first year that the huge Norwegian spring spawning herring stock failed to migrate along the north coast of Iceland and we spent weeks carrying out plankton tows and acoustic surveys without any sign of the fish we were looking for. Finally we found the shoals, but they were a long way NE of Iceland, towards Bear Island and were already being heavily fished by a Soviet fleet.

After university, I won a scholarship for PhD work at the Fisheries Lab, Lowestoft (again on Glover's recommendation), but kept in touch with Jakob and several other close Icelandic friends from the time on Aegir and from Bangor. During the cod wars of the 1970s, Jakob used to jokingly refer to me as his "mole" in the UK Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, but our conversations never strayed beyond families and science. Subsequently, I interacted with him several times through ICES, in particular when he hosted ICES Symposium on Cod and Climate Change in Reykjavik in 1998. He was a wonderful host and, as convenor of the symposium, gave a brilliant summing up of the huge range of research presented at the conference, also editing the Proceedings.

A lifetime debt and an unforgettable man.​​​

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Personal recollections of Jakob Jakobsson

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