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Photo: Fishing boats moored to the dock in Sauðárkrókur.

Drastic Cutbacks for Marine Research Institute

There are drastic cutbacks afoot for the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute of Iceland (MFRI), Vísir reports. The institute has had to lay off between twenty to thirty employees, and the research vessel Bjarni Sæmundsson has been moored permanently.

MFRI director Sigurður Guðjónsson stated that these are necessary measures to meet the cutback demands set forth by government authorities. The institute has been instructed to cut back costs to the tune of ISK 303,5 million ($ 2.55 million, €2.10 million).

Sigurður states that the government’s demand for cutbacks was a surprise. The official appropriation towards he MFRI has been reduced as well as a reduced contribution from the official Fishing Industry Research Fund (Verkefnasjóður sjávarútvegsins). “We expected a general demand for streamlining, like has been the case in the last years, but not these drastic measures,” Sigurður stated.

The Marine and Freshwater Research Institute employs just under 200 people and runs two full-time research vessels.

Interestingly, a parliamentary resolution was proposed in the summer of 2018 for the construction of a new marine research vessel. “A strong showing in marine research, and the monitoring of oceans, are main prerequisites for the sustainable usage of the ocean’s natural resources, and improve our knowledge of the environment and those changes which can take place. This parliamentary resolution proposes that next year [2019], the preparation of the construction of a new marine research vessel will take place, and it built, in the years 2020 and 2021. By doing so we look towards Iceland continuing to lead in terms of decent conduct with nature as well as marine- and fish research,” the statement read.

Several organizations have criticized the cutbacks severely, and Minister of Fisheries Kristján Þór Júlíusson has stated that authorities will respond to the criticism. “I am very hopeful that this ISK 300 million cutback will not take place – that is to say we can respond to the situation in a different way than the MFRI’s director has announced,” Kristján Þór stated.

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