The Institute of Marine Research has always had a close and good cooperation with fishermen and the fishing industry. These contact and information flows have traditionally occurred by having institute personnel collect scientific samples on board fishing vessels or at ports, and on board commercial fishing vessels chartered for conducting scientific research surveys. The Reference Fleet aims to improve data collection and information flows both from and to the fishermen.
What is the reference fleet?
The reference fleet is a small group of Norwegian fishing vessels that provide the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) with detailed information about their fishing activity and catches on a regular basis. The sampling and data management procedures are similar to the system used on board IMR’s research vessels. Data is used for management purposes including stock assessment.
A high-seas reference fleet was established in 2000 and consists of 15 vessels (there is an ongoing tender for four of these vessels). In autumn 2005, a similar coastal reference fleet was established along the entire Norwegian Coast from Varanger to Oslofjord. This fleet is composed of 19 vessels (mainly gillnetters, 9–15 m long). Public announcement every fourth year opens up for replacement of the fleet and motivates fishermen involvement.
From 2014, the reference fleet received a new form for financing. The Norwegian fishing fleet is now imposed a research duty on firsthand sales of fish from Norwegian fisheries. A portion of the proceeds from this research fee are allocated by the Norwegian authorities to the reference fleet.