IMR's headquarters are in Bergen, but important activities are also carried out at our department in Tromsø, at the research stations in Matre, Austevoll and Flødevigen and on board our research vessels, which are at sea for a total of 1600 days a year. The Institute is heavily engaged in development aid activities through the Centre for Development Cooperation in Fisheries.
The aquaculture research has historically been focused on areas like reproduction, early lifestages, population genetics, fish health and welfare and environmental effects and has been done in our research facilities in Bergen, Austevoll and Matre. The first aquaculture research facility was established in Matre, 80 kilometers north of Bergen in 1971. This was ten years before the salmon farming industry took off in Norway. When the station was build there had been done a few attempts to keep Atlantic salmon in sea-cages, and the possibilities for developing a commercial production looked promising. The station was established to develop and optimize methods, to develop knowledge and to collect Atlantic salmon eggs from around the world to act as a basis for a breeding population for a possible salmon industry. Since the opening in 1971, the research station in Matre has been the core facility for the salmonid research of the Institute of Marine Research and of several national and international collaborators, and several of the methods developed here are now in use throughout the world. However, this focus on industry support and production optimization has changed, and today, all research at the Institute of Marine Research is focused towards supporting the strategy of the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, and it is expected to procure the scientific foundation for a knowledge based management of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
As a consequence of a change in strategy and working areas the research station has been totally modernized with new water supplies, new and better experimental facilities and new analytical laboratories.
The most conspicuous element in the new facilities is the two 15 m high concrete headertanks which give a high and stable pressure in the water supply. One of these contain freshwater which is supplied from several sources among them an adjacent hydroelectric powerplant. The other contains seawater which is pumped from 90 meters depth in the Matre fjord and which has a stable water quality of 8-8.5 oC and 35 ppt salinity. Both water qualities are filtered (40 µm) before it enters into the environment control systems. The new facilities have tanks between 180 and 7000 liters and have kept all the functions of the older facilities; like photoperiod control, an accurate feeding control and a waste feed collection system for all experimental units. In addition we can control the environmental conditions very accurately through very sophisticated environmental control system.