Election headache for Iceland’s fishing industry Published: 27 April, 2009
ICELAND’S fishing industry was today bracing itself for a looming battle to prevent the country joining the European Union following a General Election victory at the weekend by a coalition of centre-left political parties.
As expected the caretaker government, which came in following the resignation of the Conservative alliance in January, swept to power on the back of Iceland’s economic woes which saw the collapse of its major banks in October.
The new ruling Social Democrats say they are keen to join the EU, but its coalition partner the Left Greens remain sceptical although the party is not opposed outright.
The fear among fishing companies, most notably the Icelandic Fishing Vessel owners Association, is that if Iceland joins the EU it will not only lose the independence it won from Denmark at the end of the Second World War, but will be forced to open its rich fishing grounds to countries like France and Spain which have powerful catching fleets. The cod war battles of the 1960s and 1970s will then have been for nothing.
They point to the decimation of EU fish stocks and the fleets of member states like Britain through the Common Fisheries Policy. Fishing remains one of the few business success stories in Iceland and last year its seafood exports totalled more than £500 million.
However, with the collapse in the value of the krona a growing number of people in Iceland now see EU and euro membership as an escape route from its desperate economic troubles