1. To carry out mackerel and horse mackerel egg survey (ICES Triennial Survey) within sampling Period 7 of the 2016 MEGS survey plan along the NE Atlantic shelf and slope in the area from approximately 47 00N to 58 30N.
2. To collect adult fish samples, by trawling, for atresia and fecundity analysis back at the laboratory.
The vessel will be loaded from Ullapool on the afternoon of 27 June. During the early evening the vessel will proceed down through the Minch towards the first plankton stations west of Barra Head at 56 45N in time for early morning on 28 June. Ideally, plankton stations will be taken west along the line until zero eggs are found and from there the vessel will continue surveying in the south. This Period 7 survey represents the final survey in the normal 2016 survey plan and it will attempt to cover the whole of the spawning area. This is an extremely challenging task and as such the main priority will be to ensure that the remaining spawning concentrations are sampled adequately. Its extent will, therefore, be largely determined by the observed findings of the two vessels surveying in Period 6. Figure 1 represents the area to be surveyed. Due to the size of the area latitudinal transect spacing will almost certainly be at 1o intervals with stations being sampled at 30' intervals on the E/W transects normally at the 15' and 45'. Plankton stations will be taken using the Gulf VII sampler with mounted CTD, which will record salinity and temperature during the tow. The plankton tows will require the vessel to deploy the sampler and then steam at 4 knots. The sampler will then be lowered at a steady rate (6 m/min) from the plankton crane to within 5 m of the seabed or 200 m - whichever is shallower. The sampler will then be recovered at the same speed. Once aboard, plankton samples will be washed from the sampler net, fixed in formalin and scored for egg abundance. Trawl samples will be taken at the discretion of the scientist in charge. There should be a maximum of 12 trawls for the whole survey, and will usually be taken at the shelf edge.
The vessel will put in for a mid-survey break in Ireland. Altaire will then complete the remaining survey transects before returning north to Ullapool for unloading on the morning of 20 July 2016. All of the sampling gear as well as the samplers, sampling container and wire for deploying the sampler will also be unloaded and returned back to Aberdeen. Normal contact will be maintained with the laboratory.