Thursday 12. March 2020

Field trips in Maritime Anthropology and Sustainable Aquaculture

Field trips and experiential learning is a key element in the teaching methods of our two masters programs in Coastal and Marine Management and Coastal Communities and Regional Development. We try to integrate as much of this as possible into the curriculum to give students better practical insights into various subjects they learn in the classroom.

Teachers joined forces in the simultaneously running elective courses Maritime Anthropology and Sustainable Aquaculture, and went on a day trip to the neighboring village Þingeyri in Dýrafjörður to explore aquaculture, community development and innovation as well as the rich marine related history of the village.

Aquaculture in Dýrafjörður

The first stop was at Arctic Fish, an aquaculture company with operations in Dýrafjörður. The students hopped on a feed barge and headed off to the sea cages in the fjord where they got the opportunity to visit the floating feeding station that services the sea cages. Our students learned how the feeding and monitoring works, gained insight into the daily operation and had ample opportunity to ask questions and engage in discussions  with the staff .

Getting firsthand experience of a fully functioning aquaculture farm is of course a valuable experience for students of both programs as aquaculture plays an important role in the development of Iceland´s remote coastal communities as well as contemporary resource management.  Both courses are studying the cultural and economic connections of coastal communities to marine resources  and how these connections change over time, in this case, from fisheries to aquaculture.

The Blue Bank in Þingeyri

Next stop was the Blue Bank, a community development project that has been running for two years. There students warmed up after the cold boat trip out on the fjord, enjoyed lunch and got an introduction to the various projects that the bank is offering. The Blue Bank functions as a service centre for locals and provides amongst other things banking services and IT support. It’s also a is a remote co-working space and platform for social development that fosters inspiration, creativity, entrepreneurs, digital nomads and anyone who needs a workspace for a long or short time. The Blue Bank has also launched projects such as the innovation accelerator Startup Westfjords, a summer school with the Future Food organization and various creative workshops. Needless to say, such a place is very interesting for students in Coastal Communities and Regional Development masters program.

The old balcksmith´s workshope / Forge and Machine Workshop in Þingeyri

The final stop was the old Forge and Machine Workshop in Þingeyri. This amazing place is the oldest functioning machine workshop and forge in Iceland. It has been kept as it was when it was founded in 1913. It was fully functioning until 1995 and was an important pillar in the fisheries and maritime related industries in the community up until that time. In the mid-nineties the fishing industry in the village declined and around that time the workshop was turned into a museum. Despite having a new role, the workshop is still fully functioning.

A trip to Ósvör Maritime Museum

The Maritime Anthropology class visited the Maritime Museum at Ósvör in Bolungarvík. Ósvör  is a recreated 19th century fishing station that gives a great insight into the life of fishermen and women of that era. On display is a crew hut with tools and equipment as well as a salt house and drying hut. As a preparation the students watched a documentary film called Give us this Day which was shot at Ósvör and on board the rowing boat Ölver. UW staff members can put on different hats, and the masters program coordinator Astrid Fehling did just that by putting on the traditional outfit, while giving students a tour around the station.

The next stop was the University of Iceland Research Centre in Bolungarvík where students were welcomed by Dr. Ragnar Edvardsson who showed the students the Centre’s research facilities for their two research focus areas, fish biodiversity and maritime archaeology. Dr. Edvardsson is an archeologist and showed the students some interesting artifacts found at old whaling stations in the Westfjords.

The final stop of the trip was the Natural History Museum in Bolungarvík. The museum has a variety of stuffed animals ranging from a polar bear, seals and foxes to exotic bird species such as the only flamingo ever to be found in Iceland.

We are looking forward to upcoming field trips with our students during the rest of the school year. 

Students on board the feed barge heading off the the sea cages in Dýrafjörður.
Students on board the feed barge heading off the the sea cages in Dýrafjörður.
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