Scientific research is essential for successful fisheries management. Extensive knowledge of the ocean around Iceland and its ecosystem forms the foundation for decisions on sustainable fisheries and other utilization of the natural resources of the sea.
The Marine Research Institute of Iceland carries out wide-ranging and extensive research on the status and productivity of commercial stocks, and long-term research on the marine environment and the ecosystem in Icelandic waters. This research is the basis of the Institute‘s advice on sustainable catches of the fish stocks at each time.
The Ministry of Industries and Innovation bases its policy decisions on annual total allowable catch on the recommendations of the Marine Research Institue as well as consultation with stakeholders. In practice the Minsitry follows almost all recommendation by the Marine Research Institute and very compelling and concrete arguments have been needed in the few instances in latter years when the Mindstry has allowed bigger total allowable catches than recommended by the Institute.
Fiskistofa, the Directorate of Fisheries alots annual catch quotas to each vessel by distributing the total allowable catch according to the quota shares attached to each vessel. Transferable quota shares have been distributed to individual fishing vessels on the basis of their catches in a given stock during the three years prior to the introduction of the stock into the quota system.The individually transferable quota shares and catch quotas are the cornerstone of the Icelandic fisheries management system. The system is intended to limit the total catch and to ensure that catches are in line with total allowable catch.
In addition to the individually transferable quota system, Icelandic fisheries management includes many other management measures such as area restrictions, fishing gear restrictions, and the use of closed areas to conserve important vulnerable habitats. Extensive provisions are made for temporary closures of fishing areas to protect spawning and juvenile fish. These measures are all meant to support and secure the sustainability of the fisheries.
Effective control and enforcement is an inseparable part of responsible fisheries management. The Directorate of Fisheries monitors Icelandic fisheries closely to ensure that all rules are obeyed. Iceland has one of the most sophisticated enforcement regimes in the world, in particular regarding port control and weighing of all catches. According to Icelandic law, discards are prohibited. All catches must be landed.
Further information at Iceland responsible fisheries