Row over fjord salmon licences erupts in Iceland

Iceland FF

A political row has broken out in Iceland over the granting of new fjord farming licences to the country’s salmon companies.

The government has been accused of giving away the country’s national resources to commercial businesses, many of which are foreign owned.

The proposals are contained in a parliamentary bill and, if approved, would allow fish farming businesses to farm in the fjords for an indefinite period.

But they have been met with strong opposition both inside and outside parliament especially from MPs and groups hostile to open pen farming.

Critics claim the government should not give the farming companies indefinite access to the fjords, some of which are areas of outstanding natural beauty. The government has strongly defended its position.

Open pen farming in Iceland has developed into a major controversy following escapes and other serious incidents last year. Other critics says the proposed legislation is far too vague.

Salmon farming has expanded rapidly in Iceland over the last decade and is now running at more than 50,000 tonnes a year with further growth on the cards.

Open pen farming has also brought employment and new prosperity to once depressed for fishing areas and is popular among the populations in those districts.

The final decision will probably fall to a committee in the Althingi, Iceland’s parliament.

To diffuse the situation, one of the suggestion is to time limit the licences, with a period of 16 years being proposed. However, they could be renewed when that period expires.


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