Iceland’s fishing industry cheers election result Published: 29 April, 2013
ICELAND’S fishing industry was breathing a sigh of relief today following the centre right’s convincing victory in the country’s general election at the weekend.
As expected, voters decided they have had enough of austerity and the outgoing centre left government, which came into power soon after the Icelandic banking and economic collapse in 2008-2009 which, ironically, was blamed on mismanagement by the right.
The Icelandic political party structure is complicated with six parties fielding candidates including the Pirate Party. As the country has adopted a PR system, there is usually no outright winner in general elections.
But the Progressive Party and the Independence Party, which represents the old farming and fishing community, together polled over 50 per cent of the popular vote and won 38 of the 63 seats. They should have no trouble in forming a workable government. Both are opposed to EU membership which will be welcomed by both Iceland’s trawler owners, fishermen and fish workers.
The fear in the industry was that if Iceland did join the EU, it would one day be forced to share its rich and well managed fishing grounds with other member states. It may well have been granted certain concessions at the start of membership, but sooner or later countries such as Spain, France and possibly the UK would have demanded that Icelandic should open its waters to others. This victory is expected to halt the island nation’s application for EU membership.
The Icelandic Fishing Vessel owners Federation (LIU) has also been fighting proposals to reform the country’s fishing quota management system which they say will lead to lower profits and therefore lower investment by the industry. Legalisation was laid before the Icelandic Parliament before the election was called. The vessel owners are almost certain to press for it to be scrapped or, at the very least, substantially amended.