Aquaculture ‘halting population drift’


THE expansion of aquaculture in Iceland is playing an important role in boosting prosperity and helping to stem the drift of young people away from coastal communities, says a new employment report.
The report was prepared by the country’s Regional Development Institute and published by the Confederation of Icelandic Fishing Companies, which now includes the fish farming sector.
It has looked at employment trends over the past decade in the capital, Reykjavik, against those in more isolated areas in the southern part of the Westfjords region.
This is a part of the country that has suffered a population decline following the demise of conventional fishing activities, but where much of the growth in salmon farming is now taking place.
A number of farming companies have recently announced plans for extensive further expansion – plans which have met resistance from environmental groups but which have been openly welcomed by the communities where they will be based.
The study has found that between 2008 and 2017 employment increased by 7.3 per cent, with more than 65 per cent of that rise due to aquaculture.
And the average age of people in the southern Westfjords, where fish farming is strongest, is lower than the northern area – in other words, there are more young people.
The report also states that fish farming is now having a considerable impact on secondary jobs in particular, and without aquaculture the increase in employment would only have been around 2.5 per cent.
‘Aquaculture is a growing industry and its development is the main reason for this change,’ the report adds.
Leading Icelandic economists have said the authorities should embrace what is happening.


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