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Mariculture
One of the aims listed in the act nr. 72 for the Marine Research Institute (MRI) is to carry out research in the field of mariculture. In the year 1985 the first biologist devoted to mariculture was hired. His initial work involved growth rate experiments with wild halibut in cooperation with a large salmon farm, Iceland Salmon Ltd., located on the South West coast near Grindavik. In the year 1988 MRI built a 560 m2 mariculture laboratory in the vicinity of Iceland Salmon. The company agreed to deliver filtered seawater to the laboratory. A staff of four people was hired, director, one biologist and two culturists. In the year 2002 an additional 790 m2 building was built and an agreement made with Iceland Salmon of delivering warm water to the laboratory.

The greatest emphasis has been put on studying the farming potential of four species in Iceland, halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus), cod (Gadus morhua), turbot (Scopthalmus maximus) and abalone (Haliotis rufescens).

>> More on MRI''s maricultural research


Several other experiments have been carried out in the laboratory. The staff has worked with species such as, catfish (Anarhichas lupus), spotted catfish (Anarhichas minor), lemon sole (Microstomus kitt), Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides), haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), salmon (Salmo salar), seithe (Pollachius virens), lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus), butterfish (Pholis gunnellus), Iceland scallop (Chlamys islandica), green sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis), Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) and Japanese abalone, Ezo awabi (Haliotus discus hannai). MRI has also participated in several aquaculture projects outside the institute, frequently in cooperation with private companies, e.g. collection and ongrowing of wild cod and haddock in sea pens, growth rate studies of juveniles in landbased facilities, experimental feeding of free-ranging cod in an Icelandic fjord (fjordranching) and research and development of cultivation of blue mussel (Mytilus edulis). MRI has also invested in a few pioneer companies that are developing farming of some new species such as halibut, turbot and abalone.

In the next few years MRI aims to put more emphasis on developing cod farming in Iceland, e.g. concerning juvenile production, selection of broodstock and selective breeding in cooperation with some private companies and research institutes. The plan is to establish a private company to carry out the necessary research and development. The aim of the breeding program is to produce each year juveniles from 200 different families for ongrowing trials in several fish farms in Iceland, both in landbased facilities and sea pens. MRI will continue to produce cod and turbot juveniles for the Icelandic market until other companies can take over this task. Then the institute will concentrate on small scale experimental studies with the aim to optimize the juvenile production and the ongrowing phase of the commercially important species. MRI considers it also an important task to study the environmental conditions in Iceland for mariculture to be able to map the most promising areas for farming and cultivation of various kinds of fish, invertebrates and algae. Finally, the institute will continue to explore opportunities for farming of new and promising species.
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MRI | Skulagata 4, 121 Reykjavik, Iceland | tel: +354 575 2000 | fax: +354 575 2001 | hafro@hafro.is