The people of Iceland are descended from rugged Viking seafarers and, as with other island races, "the sea is in their blood".
The people of Iceland are descended from rugged Viking seafarers and, as with other island races, "the sea is in their blood". But whereas to many island countries the sea is mainly useful for pleasure sailing--and as an inducement to tourists!--to Iceland the sea is an economic fact of life. Many of its 206,000 people earn their living from the ocean, the ports or associated industry, and nearly 90 per cent of its much-needed foreign earnings come from fish exports.
All modern industries nowadays base their future planning on research and scientific investigation--and Iceland's fishing industry is no exception. Three research vessels ply the fishing grounds which surround its shores. The samples of seawater they take are analyzed ashore; fish are also measured and examined; and a pattern emerges of the development of fish resources and, consequently, of the fishing industry so vital to Icelandic well-being.
At the moment the Icelandic government is engaged in what has been nicknamed the "cod war". It is a dispute with other fishing countries which do not recognise new territorial limits of 50 miles declared by Iceland. But the "cod war" has not interrupted the constant work of the sea-going aciontists who, though few in number, are regarded as some of the most important "deckhands" in the Icelandic fishing fleet.
SYNOPSIS: Boats come and go at Reykjavik in Iceland as often as buses in other capital cities. Iceland has an even closer relationship with the sea than most island countries, because the sea plays an essential role in its economy. Ninety per cent of its vital foreign earnings come from fish exports.
Many of Iceland's two hundred and six thousand people earn their living either from the sea, the ports, or from associated industries. And other businesses own their prosperity ultimately to Iceland's liquid asset, which provides the money spent in Reykjavik's shops.
But much of Iceland's successful exploitation of the sea depends on boats like the Bja???ni Saemundsson.
She doesn't catch much fish but the seawater she collects in these tubes provide the basis of vital research. They're analyzed ashore at Iceland's Fishery and Oceanic Institute in Reykjavik. All modern industries can only thrive with constant research and scientific investigation, and Iceland's fishing industry is well-aware of the need to think ahead. So regular analysis is made of seawater from all parts of the North Sea, where the fish live and breed. The scientists then compare the fish caught in each area of ocean.
Samples of various species are weighed, then scientific tests are carried out. Much of the work is routine, a matter of constant, painstaking recording of statistics. But the overall pattern which emerges reveals what is happening below the grey waves through which Iceland's fishing boats wallow to bring home the cod and herring. Indeed, it was the discovery that cod tend to breed in certain areas that prompted Iceland to declare the controversial fifty-mile fishing limit, which caused the current dispute with other fishing nations. Discovering more about the life cycles...of fish is but one important aspect of the institute's work. Through its constant monitoring of ocean samples it can check all sorts of ways in which the sea is changing, whether from pollution or some natural cause.
Maps are compiled from the statistics so carefully noted by the technicians. Maps which tell the experts where fish are plentiful and where they are scarce, or too young to catch.
But while the scientists ashore plod on with their calculations, for their seagoing colleagues it's soon time for another voyage. They may not catch many fish, but Iceland regards them as one of the most important crews in her entire fishing fleet.