Thousands of Icelanders sign petition against net-pen fish farming

Beautiful reflection of the parliament house Althing of Reykjavik in lake Tjornin

More than 46,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Icelandic government to outlaw open net-pen salmon farming in the country’s fjords.

The poll has the backing of Icelandic sport fishing groups, which have been conducting a long campaign against this type of aquaculture.

The campaign took on new momentum last autumn following a serious escape at an Arctic Fish facility in the Westfjords.

It has since become even more of a political hot potato now that Iceland’s new aquaculture bill, setting out a long term strategy for fish farming, is currently being debated by parliament.

The petition was started several months ago and includes signatures from foreigners and Icelandic nationals. It was delivered to the Ministry of Food which had been handling the Aquaculture Bill, but that responsibility has now been taken over by the Icelandic Economic and Social Committee.

Elvar Örn Friðriksson, managing director of the Wild Salmon Conservation Fund, said he wants the minister to respect the will of the people.

He said: “This controversial bill is pending that will determine the future of this industry. It’s getting close to the end of the session and the case hasn’t been resolved yet, so we wanted to remind them what really matters in this matter.”

The Fund alleges that in Scotland, Norway and Canada there are now relatively few uncontaminated wild salmon because of genetic mixing with the wild population.

Farming companies around the world have found it almost impossible to prevent escapes so therefore all open pen farming in Iceland must be stopped, the Fund demands.

Anti-salmon farm protest, Reykjavik, 2023

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