With Greece entering the European Community in the early 80s, it became important for the country to restructure many areas of its public sector, including its agricultural research, which at that time was scattered in a number of independent research units. Thus, in 1989 the National Agricultural Research Foundation (NAGREF) was founded in order to encompass the above research units and restructure them as Institutes, whose primary aim was to contribute to the agricultural development and production of Greece through cutting edge basic and applied research. In 2011, NAGREF along with its Institutes was merged with the Agricultural Products Certification Organization and the Agricultural Education Organization to form the Hellenic Agricultural Organization – DEMETER (HAO-DEMETER). This process resulted in a significant decrease in the number of the Institutes as those with similar or overlapping research activities were merged to single units. Presently, the 11 research Institutes belong to the General Directorate of Agricultural Research of HAO-DEMETER.
The Fisheries Research Institute became fully operative in 1995 and was the last of the Institutes to become part of NAGREF. Being the only research Institute in Greece specialized exclusively in fisheries research, its structure and activities remain in HAO-DEMETER as were in the NAGREF. The Institute has coordinated or participated in numerous National or European research projects with a total budget of over 25 million Euros.
From 1995-2017, Director of the Institute was Dr Argyris Kallianiotis (retired January 2017). Presently, the acting Director of FRI is Dr Grigorios Krey.