The new vessel will be ready in 2016, at which point it will take over the name and the responsibilities of the current “Dr. Fridtjof Nansen”, which is 20 years old. The old ship has carried out most of the missions to study ecosystems within the Nansen project, which has been providing fisheries aid to a number of poorer countries since 1975.
Important to the Nansen project
Åsmund Bjordal leads The Institute of Marine Research’s Centre for Development Cooperation in Fisheries (CDCF), which operates the “Dr. Fridtjof Nansen”. The Institute is also responsible for the scientific findings obtained through the Nansen project, which was recently selected as one of ten “success stories” by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. Bjordal emphasises that a new research vessel is vital to the future of the Nansen project.
“These days we are supposed to carry out research in a wide variety of fields: climate, ocean acidification, ecosystems and marine biodiversity. A modern research vessel will enable us to meet the challenge that this entails.”
Modern development aid
The decision to provide funding for the new research vessel was announced by Heikki Holmås, the Minister of International Development, who highlighted the aims of providing modern development aid and performing inter-disciplinary research.
“The ‘Dr. Fridtjof Nansen’ and the Nansen project are a specific example of a development aid programme that is internationally recognised as a success story. With a modern vessel, it will be possible to continue and expand the important work that is done through the project. With the growth of the oil industry off the coast of West Africa, it will become increasingly important to effectively monitor the environment and to map the living marine resources,” argues Heikki Holmås. He also emphasises the important role played by fisheries aid in the effort to combat food shortages around the world.