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Iceland plans new marine research vessel

The Icelandic Parliament has passed a motion allocating funds for development and construction as the first step towards a new research vessel for the Marine Research Institute.

Parliament has approved ISK300 million (€2.4 million) for in funding for 2019 for the new vessel’s design and preparation for construction, and ISK1.6 billion (€12.85 million) in 2020 and the same amount for 2021 for the new vessel’s construction.

The Marine Research Institute operates the 70 metre research vessel Árni Friðriksson built in Chile in 2000, as well as the now elderly Bjarni SÌmundsson which was built in Germany for the Institute in 1970. This older vessel is no longer considered to be suitable for the workload placed on the Institute and is long overdue replacement.

‘The Marine Research Institute operates two research vessels. In addition, fishing vessels have been leased for certain assignments. Spring and Autumn stock assessment surveys are the largest projects that require leased vessels. It has become increasingly difficult to obtain vessels for these surveys as the commercial fleet has reduced in size and new vessels are fully occupied with commercial fishing,’ the bill put before Parliament states.

‘For this reason, it is necessary to rely almost entirely on the research vessels. Changing distributions of pelagic species and changes in stock size have demanded additional survey work by the research vessels. The older vessel, Bjarni Sæmundsson, is almost fifty years old and no longer meets the demands made of research vessels in terms of capabilities and equipment, and is also expensive to operate.’

‘Comprehensive marine research and awareness of the marine environment are the basis of sustainable exploitation of marine resources. This bill proposes that preparation for the construction of a new marine research vessel should begin next year and this is should be built during 2020 and 2021. This will allow Iceland to reman at the forefront of responsible stewardship of nature and in marine and fisheries research.’

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