New marine research centre opened in Bergen

“I am confident that you will take our tradition of excellent marine research further,” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg stated as she opened the new Hjort Centre for Marine Ecosystem Dynamics.

Norwegian PM Erna Solberg believes that holding the opening of the Hjort Centre at Bergen Aquarium, where she used to have a summer job as a teenager, made it even more special. Photo: Camilla Aadland

By Camilla Aadland

The Institute of Marine Research, University of Bergen, Nansen Centre and Uni Research are behind the centre, which is named after the founder of the Norwegian Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Johan Hjort.

“I am both proud and happy that Uni Research is involved in this collaboration. The Hjort Centre will place Bergen on the map as a marine capital to an even greater extent,” said Aina Berg, Managing Director at Uni Research in her welcome speech.

The opening took place at Bergen Aquarium, with several prominent guests in attendance.

“Establishing the centre reconfirms the great marine aspirations that Norway has. This maritime quartet has the opportunity to leave a big legacy,” says Minister of Fisheries Elisabeth Aspaker in reference to the four collaboration partners.

Better cooperation
The vision for the Hjort Centre is to form a basis for greater sustainability in marine harvesting by understanding and quantifying the effects of natural and man-made changes to the oceans.

“Bergen is one of the top 10 international cities in relation to research articles within the area of marine studies. The Hjort Centre will be an arena for promoting more and better cooperation between the various institutions,” says researcher Christian Jørgensen of Uni Research.

He is one of the initiators of the Hjort Centre for Marine Ecosystem Dynamics.

“The aim is to raise the quality of the research and create an arena in which to meet and talk together. We are raising aspirations in the hope that the knowledge obtained through research will be used to an even greater extent,” says Jørgensen.

Climate changes and population growth
One of the areas in which the Hjort Centre wants to specialise is the biological effects on the oceans from climate changes.

“We want to initiate joint project applications and common growth. The University of Bergen and the Institute of Marine Research are investing funds to allow us to have some dedicated employees. We will apply jointly for research projects in order to raise the quality of research and create shared goals. A lot is going on in Bergen, but so far we have been researching according to our own goals. There are many skilled people working by themselves; what we want is to try and get them to collaborate,” continues Jørgensen.

“Why do we need this type of centre?
“The world is facing big challenges. One of these is that the climate is changing. Most of the heat is absorbed by the oceans, which means a warmer ocean with less ice. This will generate great changes in our ocean environments. The other great challenge is population growth. Although around half the global biological production occurs in the oceans, only two per cent of the world’s food comes from the sea. We need to find out how we can harvest more from the ocean in a sustainable manner. It’s time to work across institutions, to push each other forward and raise ambitions,” says Jørgensen.

Managing Director of Uni Research, Aina Berg, thanked the researchers who came up with the vision and aspiration for the Hjort Centre. Photo: Camilla Aadland

International influence
The four partners behind the Hjort Centre are also collaborating on the Bjerkness Centre for Climate Research.

“The ambition is for the Hjort Centre to realise the same power and international influence that the Bjerkness Centre has achieved,” Aina Berg explained in her speech.

She believes that the connection between the research used and the basic research at the Hjort Centre will be a true key to success.

“The Hjort Centre is a forward-looking and important investment from which Norway will benefit for a long time into the future. It will also position Norway as one of the biggest mariculture nations. Good luck with the incredibly important work that will be done here in the future,” said Aspaker.

The Norwegian PM believes that it is a good thing for the research environments in Bergen to have ambitions.

“The Hjort Centre gathers the best of the best from four environments into one centre. This is something we welcome. I believe in gathering our strengths,” says Erna Solberg.

Feb. 19, 2014, 11:19 a.m.