The Marine Research Institute (MRI) of Iceland bears responsibility for all scientific research on marine resources. The institute has trained scientists, research assistants and runs three research vessels. The primary role of the institute is assessment of the marine stocks upon which it bases its recommendation to the Minister of Fisheries on the total allowable catch (TAC) for each marine stock. The stock assessment findings of the MRI are subject to review by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). The Institute publishes an extensive report in May each year on the state of the marine stocks and prospects for the coming year.
Assessment of the stock size of pelagic species such as capelin and herring is done by using sonar. Acoustic measurements on the shoals is based on reflection of the sound waves from the fishes’ flotation bladder which is filled with air. The magnitude of the reflection gives an indication of the size of the shoal under the research vessel. In addition to the sonar assessment, samples are taken from the stock to analyse for age, weight and length distribution.
Based on the information collected by the researchers, the stock size of each species is estimated each year and the TAC’s calculated according to complex formulae where many interacting environmental factors are taken into consideration.
Prior to the commencement of each fishing year, the Ministry of Fisheries issues regulations for the TAC from each of the stocks.