Iceland PM takes over responsibility for fish farm reform

Photo: News Oresund [creative commons]

Iceland’s Prime Minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir, has taken over temporary responsibility for the reform of the country’s aquaculture industry and general fishing responsibilities.

The move comes after the Food Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir, the person normally in charge of these issues, revealed she has breast cancer and is taking indefinite leave.

The Prime Minister (pictured, above) said: “I will prioritise what is absolutely necessary at this time. It is not as if I am going to start some new strategy or anything like that, but I am going to carry out these tasks as best I can until things become clearer.”

There is a great deal of sympathy with the Food Minister’s predicament and the People’s Party has withdrawn a motion of no confidence against Svandís Svavarsdóttir, describing the news as “shocking” and wishing her a speedy recovery.

The Food Minister has come in for criticism on a number of issues which also includes her decision to temporarily ban whaling late last year, an issue which sharply divides opinions in Iceland.

Salmon farming has also become a hot political potato and the Food Minister’s proposals have been strongly criticised by SFS, the seafood industry’s employer organisation.

The government has received more than 300 comments on the Food Minister’s aquaculture reform bill, many from those who want to see open fjord fish farming totally banned.

SFS has said that while the legal framework around fish farming needed to be reviewed and there were some good things in the bill, some of the proposals were far too onerous. It also believes the minister will be given powers that are far too strong.

Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir

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