The Marine and Freshwater Research Institute copyMarine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) is a government institute under the auspices of the Ministry of Industries and Innovation. The institute employs around 190 staff, operates 2 research vessels and 10 branches around the country, including an aquaculture experimental station.

MFRI conducts various marine and freshwater research and provides the Ministry with scientific advice based on its research on marine and freshwater resources and the environment. MFRI is leading in marine and freshwater research in Icelandic territories and the arctic, providing advice on sustainable use and protection of the environment with an ecosystem approach by monitoring marine and freshwater ecosystems.

Key words: #research #ocean #seal #whale #science


The main research priorities are:

  • research on marine and freshwater ecosystems;
  • sustainable exploitation of main stocks;
  • ecosystem approach to fisheries management;
  • research on fishing technology and seafloor and habitat mapping.

MFRI was established on July 1, 2016 as a result of a merger of two inveterate Icelandic research institutes, the Institute of Freshwater Fisheries (founded in 1946), and the Marine Research Institute (founded in 1965).

MFRI's infrustructure

MFRI operates two research vessels and runs five branch laboratories located in Icelandic fishing communities in Akureyri, Höfn, Vestmannaeyjar, Ísafjörður and Ólafsvík. The Akureyri Branch runs in close collaboration with the faculty of Fisheries Science at the University of Akureyri.

The five branch laboratories provide important data on fisheries and carry out research in close contact with local fishing interests. The Marine and Freshwater Research Institute also runs a mariculture laboratory near Grindavík.

MFRI in the Arctic 

Research on environmental and ecological factors in the Arctic are a significant part of MFRI’s tasks. The environmental conditions in and around Iceland are up to a great extant determined by the merging of cold sea-waters from the North with warmer currents from the South. Increased understanding of the interaction of these water-masses, have been the object of various international collaborative projects the MFRI has been involved with in recent years. MFRI has monitored environmental conditions, such as temperature, salinity, nutrients, primary production and zooplankton at number of fixed positions or stations on the Icelandic shelf. The data, collected for decades, has been widely used in research on the development in climate and ecology of the North Atlantic as elsewhere.


Current projects

Amongst a variety of MFRI's cunnert projects, the institute has in recent years carried out extensive research on the biology and distribution of capelin in Icelandic Waters. The routine researches had not been able to collect the data necessary to answer urgent questions about changes in the abundance and distribution of capelin. The project has focused on the environment as on the capelin from larval to adult stage. These studies are a part of international research on the ecosystem of the Arctic (ESSA, Ecosystem Studies of Sub-Arctic Seas).  

The Fisheries Training Programme

The Marine and Freshwater Research Institute leads the work of The Fisheries Training Programme [FTP] of the United Nations University [UNU], established in 1998. Formal partners of UNU-FTP are in addition to the MRI, the University of Akureyri, Matis ltd and University of Iceland. The students are mostly professionals from various fields of fisheries in the developing countries.

UNU-FTP' website is available here.

Main publications and reports

A majority of MFRI publications are in Icelandic, though some are in English, and more recent publications have generally have an English abstract. The list of publications you can find here.

Below are a few examples of published reports form the MFRI's website


  • MFRI‘s website provides extensive information in Icelandic and English. Besides news, publications and facts on the agency’s marine research and consulting work, information can be found on the main commercial fish stocks in Icelandic waters as well as an overview of the history of marine and fisheries research around Iceland. 

MFRI in social media

Contact information
Name: Harpa Þrastardóttir
Job title: Head of Division Data & Communication
E-mail: harpa [DOT] thrastardottir [AT] hafogvatn [DOT] is
Telephone: +354 787 1808

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