New bid to suspend Arctic Fish licences rejected

Arctic Fish farm, Iceland

The authorities in Iceland have rejected a new request to suspend the operating licences of Arctic Fish at two locations in the Westfjords.

The demand had come from sports fishing associations in the area, including the National Associations of Hunting Associations. It was brought with regard to Arctic Fish’s operations in Tálknafjörður and Patreksfjörður where the company (also trading as Arctic Sea Farms) has licences to farm 7,800 tonnes of salmon.

The Iceland Food Agency MAST announced the renewal of the licences a few weeks ago but this was appealed by sporting and nature conservation groups. Those appeals have since been turned down.

MAST renewed the licences in March, and they are valid until March 2040.

The associations also demanded that construction work in the area be stopped, a demand which was also rejected.

The claim was made on a number of grounds, including that the operating licences violated a number of requirements, and the location of the farm sites presented a new navigation risk.

But it was felt that the improvements that Arctic Fish had made to its practices were enough to issue renewed operating licences.

Arctic Fish, which is majority owned by the Norwegian giant Mowi, has been fighting attempts to close or restrict operations since last summer when there was a large fish escape at one of its Westfjords sites. The company later issued an apology

Local police were instructed to carry out an investigation. That order was later suspended, but the Office of Public Prosecutions has indicated that an investigation may be required after all.

Arctic Fish has had operating licences in the two area since 2017 and is also a sizeable local employer although this fact was not thought to be relevant to the decision.

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