Fish farming has revived a once depressed region, industry body says

woman at podium

Salmon farming is bringing new prosperity to regions of Iceland that were in decline, says the country’s seafood industry organisation SFS – adding that criticism of the foreigners it has attracted to the country is unwarranted.

SFS says opponents of aquaculture have tried many things to attack the industry.

“We never really know where the next eruption will come from,” says SFS.

But it points to a recent study by the University of Iceland Institute of Economics on population development in the Westfjords, once a leading fishing area but now Iceland’s main salmon farming region.

The research found the population has increased, average wages have risen, house prices have increased, and tax receipts are higher.

“Settlements that were once fragile have flourished and employment opportunities have increased. There is no doubt that this is due to, among other things, fish farming,” SFS argues. “Things are now much better.”

SFS CEO Heiðrún Lind Marteinsdóttir (pictured) says that the new prosperity is not making members of the Icelandic Nature Conservation Fund, which has criticised the large number of foreigners in the region, very happy.

She said: “The conclusion of the conservationists seems to be that these terrible foreigners are driving the Icelanders away.

“In fact, there are relatively fewer foreigners in the Westfjords than in many parts of the south where there is no salmon farming.

“It is precisely this (aquaculture) industry that explains this antipathy of nature conservationists towards foreigners.”

She continued: “I would like to point out some important facts. Foreign labour has proven to be a key factor in consolidating value creation and maintaining a high quality of life in this country.

“People have moved here and entered important jobs that have not been filled. Their arrival is simply and indisputably the basis of economic growth in Iceland.

“With the help of people from abroad, we have managed to remain among the strongest societies in the world. And at the same time, the flora of human life and culture has become more diverse.”

She concluded: “People who move here and make society better in every way with their hard work deserve more than this kind of blow.”

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