Vestmannaeyjar Research and Study Centre was established in 1994 and has since become a model for many such in rural areas. Its purpose is research and development in mariculture, fisheries, the environment of Vestmannaeyjar and Iceland´s southern district in collaboration with the local economy. The centre houses all institutions in the islands involved in basic research, applied research, data collection, economic innovations and service measurements and tests for public and private organisations and companies. It is also the centre of adult education and distance learning at university level.
Institutions and branches:
The Marine Research Institute
The Marine Research Institute (MRI) is Icelands´s largest in the field of mariculture and fisheries. Collaboration with foreign research institutions and universities form a large part of its activity. It is a government institution within the Ministry of Fisheries and its three main areas of activity are:
- research on the marine environment and its living resources.
- providing the government with advice on catch levels and conservation measures
- providing the government, the fishery sector and the general public with relevant data and information.
Its Vestmannaeyjar branch laboratory carries out research, both locally and in larger collaborative projects. It serves as the MRI´s contact with the local fishery industry and an important part of its activities is collecting data from landed catch. Smaller projects include receiving and measuring tagged fish and taking samples to measure pollution in seaweed and mussels.
The University of Iceland – Vestmannaeyjar
The University of Iceland is both an academic and research institution with strong ties to the economic life of the country. Its faculties are manned by well educated and well trained teachers and scientists, research methods are well-established as is collaboration with foreign institutions. The purpose of the Vestmannaeyjar branch is to lay the groundwork for further university activity in the islands. A particular emphasis is placed on research and research related studies in the natural sciences and subjects connected to the economy of the islands. Environmental health and protection office for South Iceland.
The head office is situated at Selfoss with a branch in Vestmannaeyjar. All municipalities in South Iceland contribute to its running and its main duties are: issuing licenses and acting as a monitoring and supervisory body in many areas such as food processing, tourism, environmental protection and pollution control. It monitors drinking water and food quality and acts in an advisory capacity in municipal planning and building etc.
South Iceland Nature Centre
The Nature Centre provides the municipality of Vestmannaeyjar and other communities in the district with assistance and advice on the utilisation of natural resources, planning, building and evaluation of their effect on the environment. Besides this the Nature Centre does scientific research on South Iceland nature, collects data and preserves information and references to the district´s natural environment as well as advocating research. It promotes acceptable land use, conservation of nature and environmental education both for the public and schools in the district.
The Icelandic Fisheries Laboratories
The purpose of the Icelandic Fisheries Laboratories is to engage in research, conduct tests, provide advice and disperse information to appropriate authorities, the fisheries sector and the general public. In 2004 its local branches were reorganised and the emphasis placed on research, consultancy and development aiming at increasing the quality and value of marine catch.
Vestmannaeyjar Research Services
Vestmannaeyjar Research Services were established in September 2004. It is a private limited liability company owned by Vestmannaeyjar Research and Study Centre and three companies from the fishery sector. Its purpose is to conduct tests and measures for the fishing industry and provide advice and guidance.
Viska (Wisdom). The Westman Islands´ Centre for Study and Continuing Education
Viska´s educational programme covers areas falling outside the primary and secondary school´s national curriculum, unless specifically asked to do so. It takes the initiative in promoting education and distance learning in diverse subjects both to the general public and the economic sector in the islands. Viska has close collaborative ties with other educational institutions in the country promoting continuing education and university studies and is responsible for supplying and maintaining equipment for distance learning via the internet and audio/visual links. It also provides the economic sector with facilities for distance meetings and is involved in various projects in collaboration with many organisations and institutions.
South Iceland´s district employment service
South Iceland´s district employment service operates a branch in Vestmannaeyjar. Its responsibility is the registration of unemployment, evaluation of requests for and payment of unemployment benefits as well as supplying other district services with information about vacancies and job applications. The district service´s consultants also assist people searching for employment, provide advice on choice of work and vocational training and assist employers looking for staff. It also assists in employment service within the EU.