Iceland Minister allows more time over aquaculture reform plan

Iceland Fisheries and Food Minister - Vince

ICELAND’S Fisheries and Food Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir has reacted to criticism that she has not given the country’s salmon farming industry enough time to study proposals in  the new aquaculture  bill.

Originally she had said she wanted comments by January 3rd but has now extended the deadline by just seven days – until January 10th.

The Minister (pictured)  sees her plan as creating a blueprint for the future, but it could be heading for a Norway style clash with the industry.

The industry is clearly not happy with some of the proposals.

SFS, the Icelandic Association of Fishing Companies, is saying they go against the  guidelines of a detailed Boston Consulting Group report prepared for the Minister of Food a year ago.

Boston recommended both moderate fees in a growing industry with many opportunities along with forward thinking for the future.

But SFS says the Minister was now proposing  both high and burdensome taxes on the operating companies.

The government also plans to protect  Eyjarfjörður and Öxarfjörður, two key fjords,  from open  farming.

“These conservation plans were not presented as part of the consultation process that took place this year, says SFS.  And there has to date been no scientific examination of the areas to see whether they are suitable for farming.

The association says the government plans go  significantly further than what has been done in other comparable countries  where the growth of the sector was supported with a reasonable fee environment in the early days of  salmon farming development.

It argues that higher taxes and fees reduce the scope for companies to invest in new technologies or solutions.

Yet despite this the minister was making increased demands on companies with her proposals.

She was also going against the interests of the people from local communities who work in the industry.

Her recommendations will be the subject of further discussions with the industry, but the signs are there of a long and protracted battle between the two sides.

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