Iceland Marine Institute under fire from trawler groups Published: 21 November, 2007
ICELAND’S Marine Research Institute,(MRI), which effectively forced through this year’s 60,000 ton cut in the annual cod quota, has come under fire from two of the country’s leading fishing vessel organisations.
The Icelandic Federation of Fishing Vessel Operators – also known as LIU – effectively expressed a loss of the faith in the highly prestigious MRI at its recent annual meeting.
And, at the agm of the National Federation of Small Boat Owners – or NASBO – the MRI also took some broadsides from its members.
LIU members, who own the larger trawlers, made calls for the removal of levies on fishing, more funds for marine aquaculture research, as well as demands for the removal of local and longline incentives and the continuation of commercial whaling.
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 now that the quotas for cod were so small as to barely cover by-catches.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the LIU said: “In the debate over the recommendations on cod, it has become increasingly clear that the industry’s faith in the recommendations of the Marine Research Institute is lower that it has ever been. There are very strong doubts that the state of the stock is as poor as the latest results seek to show.”
It added: “This low level of confidence in the Marine Research Institute’s findings does not come as a surprise to the fishing industry. The Institute has been starved of funding and its capacity to carry out its legally required duties in a professional manner has been severely restricted.”
Finally, the meeting recommended to the Fisheries Minister that the differences between classes of vessels should be lifted, with the same requirements in place for all fishing vessels in terms of requirements for safety, crewing and transfer or quotas.
Meanwhile, NASBO, which held at its meeting around the same time, said it regretted the reluctance of MRI to take any notice of the experience and knowledge of small vessel owners, and instead of looking into why there is a growing gulf between fishermen and scientists.
The AGM said there have been numerous requests for the capelin fishery to be stopped or reduced, as well as for fishing gear regulations to be changed. NASBO called for the interplay between capelin and shrimp and the feed requirements of cod to be studied.
Members also pointed out that since the shrimp fishery in the Húnaflói region of the country had been entirely managed in accordance with MRI recommendations, this vital fishery had come to a complete halt.
They added: “Small boat fishermen are those who suffer most with the cuts in cod quotas. The so-called “flat” cut in cod quotas is not flat when it comes to reductions in earnings for different operators. Those who have most of their quotas in cod – which is the small boat operators – suffer more than large companies with their quotas in different species.
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