The Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries (IOF) is a scientific public institution founded in 1930 as the first national scientific and research institution dealing with research of the sea. It is Croatian National Reference Centre for the marine research with almost 100 employees of whom more than 50 are PhD experts in different field of research. Since the founding scientific activity of the Institute is multidisciplinary and covers research in the fields of biological, chemical and physical oceanography, sedimentology, and fisheries biology and aquaculture. The IOF research vessels Bios and Navicula are used for oceanographic and fisheries research activities, designed specifically for surveys and data collection for both coastal and open-sea waters.
The basic direction in the IOF work is represented by fundamental scientific research, which is mostly conducted through projects of continuing research activities funded by the Croatian Ministry of Education and Sports. The aim of this research is extending the knowledge of the structure of different plant and animal populations in the Adriatic Sea, as well as their relation to various abiotic and biotic factors important for the balance of the Adriatic ecosystem, and the definition of coast-open sea interdependence, in order to recognize possible changes resulting from climatic and anthropogenic factors. The basic mechanisms of action of population dynamics, biology and ecology of marine organisms are also under research, especially the most economical fish species and edible invertebrates (crustaceans and cephalopods), in order to determine the biologically acceptable level of their exploitation.
From the beginning, the scientists at the IOF have published over 1700 scientific and professional papers in both domestic and foreign publications. The published papers have included expedition reports, hydrographic studies, dynamic properties of the marine eco-system, description of flora and fauna, ecological research (in particular, primary and secondary production), fisheries research, advancements in fishing and artificial breeding (in relation to the Adriatic and Mediterranean, including coastal and open seas), as well as man’s impact on the sea. Apart from basic scientific research, IOF conducts a number of applied research projects for environmental protection, aquaculture and the economy in general, through which a large part of scientific knowledge and results finds a practical application.
A part of the IOF actions is dedicated to pedagogical activities, because the Institute is entrusted with the organization and execution of teaching at the Center for the Study of the Sea at the University of Split. The Institute has, in collaboration with University of Split and University of Dubrovnik, founded and organized a Ph.D. in Applied Science on the Sea, as well as doctoral studies in Oceanology with University of Zagreb and Rudjer Boskovic Institute. Within these sectors, the Institute, in collaboration with the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, for ten years regularly held an international course in fishery science, which was unfortunately discontinued in early 1991 with the beginning of the war.
Very important is the publishing activity, as of 1932. IOF publishes a scientific journal “Acta Adriatica” through which it makes the exchange with about 350 domestic and international scientific publishers.
International cooperation is developed on various grounds. This activity was extremely important since the foundation, so the employees was actively engaged in the work and making of many international organizations, committees and programs for sea exploration, especially in the Mediterranean, where the Institute has had and still has a very important role (CIESM – International Commission for Scientific Research of the Mediterranean, GFCM – General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean, EU-MEDITS, IOC – Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, WMO - World Meteorological Organization, WHO - World Health Organization, OECD - Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, UNEP - the United Nations Environment Program).
Within the FAO-AdriaMed, the Institute was named the "focal point" institution at the level of countries of the eastern Adriatic, and was named responsible for co-operation with the IOC by Republic of Croatia. In the past years, the largest part of international cooperation has developed through bilateral cooperation (Italy, France, USA, Germany, United Kingdom), while in recent years an increasing part of international cooperation takes place through a variety of multidisciplinary projects of the EU, particularly through regionaly based projects.