MAST has been allocated additional funding of $900,000 to bolster its workforce and resources.
Iceland’s Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) is set to enhance its supervision of fish farms with the acquisition of its own fleet of boats, enabling unscheduled inspections.
This move follows criticisms and a National Audit Office report earlier this year that highlighted inadequate oversight and lengthy license application processing times, according to Icelandic news service RUV.
With less than six full-time employees previously managing operations, MAST has been allocated additional funding of ISK 126 million ($900,000) to bolster its workforce and resources. The agency has announced six new roles aimed at enhancing electronic and special monitoring to ensure containment of farmed salmon.
The authority’s purchase of two six-meter boats will negate dependence on fish farming companies for access to offshore pens.
“This autonomy is crucial for us,” Karl Steinar Óskarson, Head of the Aquaculture Department at MAST, told RUV.
“We will be able to go out to the pens when we feel like it. As a result, we will not be dependent on the companies,” he said.
The agency’s use of an underwater drone further will further amplify its inspection capabilities, enabling real-time surveillance of more than 100 pens in the Westfjords and ensuring adherence to animal welfare and environmental protection standards.
“With these underwater drones, we can go to whatever pens we like and take a look inside. Monitoring whether, for example, net repairs have been carried out without us being notified and so on, as well as inspecting the fish,” Óskarson said.