Iceland fish farms get temporary licences


TWO Icelandic fish farming companies who were stopped from expanding operations in the Westfjords region six weeks ago have now been granted temporary licences by Iceland’s Department of Fisheries.
The companies, Fjarðarlax (owned by Arnarlax) and the Arctic Sea Farm, had planned to produce up to 17,500 tonnes of salmon in Patreksfjordur and Tálknafjörður, both located in the Westfjords region.
But in a controversial move, the country’s Environmental and Natural Resources Complaints Committee revoked the licences at the end of September, claiming the environmental process was flawed.
The decision brought strong protests from coastal communities in the region who had hoped the expansion of salmon farming would bring jobs and economic prosperity.
However, following amendments to the Aquaculture Act last month, the Ministry of Fisheries has issued a temporary operating licence for up to 10 months after receiving a report from the Icelandic Food Administration.
The interim licences are subject to a number of conditions. These include allowing the Icelandic Food Administration to monitor the number of exposed salmonids and making the licensees responsible for monitoring and research to assess the ecological effects of their plans.
The two companies will also have to remedy defects recently pinpointed by the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
Meanwhile, a senior government minister has sprung to the defence of the country’s aquaculture industry, describing it as playing an important role in reviving the fortunes of many isolated coastal communities.
A report on Facebook by Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, Minister for Local Government and Transport, said that about 300 jobs directly related to aquaculture were being created in the west region alone, adding that the industry was having a positive impact on rural development at both ends of the country.


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