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More funds and more marine aquaculture research, say Iceland's fishermen

ICELAND - Icelandic fisherman are losing faith in the country's respected Marine Research Institute,(MRI). They say it is losing touch with the reality of today's fish industry and the pressure it faces.

The Icelandic Federation of Fishing Vessel Operators - also known as LIU - expressed a loss of the confidence in the respected MRI at its recent annual meeting and also been the butt of much criticism from Iceland's National Federation of Small Boat Owners (NASBO).

The organisations' members called for the removal of levies on fishing and for more funds for marine aquaculture research. They said they did not support local or longline incentives and there were direct requests to the Minister of Fisheries to open various closed areas so as to allow easier catches of redfish, haddock and saithe.

The demands were in response to the substantial cut in cod quotas which fishermen say are so small they barely cover the costs of by-catches.

The LIU said that during the debate over the recommendations on cod, it was increasingly clear that the industry's faith in the recommendations of the Marine Research Institute is lower that it has ever been. There were strong doubts that the state of the stock is as poor as the latest results seek to show.

The lack of confidence in the Marine Research Institute's findings is no surprise to Iceland's fishing industry. The Institute has been starved of funding and its capacity to carry out legally required duties have been severely restricted.
One of NASBO's key concerns was the reluctance of MRI to acknowledge the experience and expertise of small vessel owners, a source of valuable information that it says could help breach the gulf between fishing industry and science.

Ellen Hardy

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