International watchdog tells Iceland not to change fish quota system –

International watchdog tells Iceland not to change fish quota system Published:  27 June, 2011

NEW battle lines are being drawn up in Iceland overplans to re-structure the country’s 20-year-old fishing quota system, following a warning from an international watchdog.

The Government wants to end the current free permanent transfer of quotas between fishing companies which it says will bring in an extra £28-million which could be invested back into coastal fishing and rural agricutlural industries. Trawler owning companies will have to pay more money up front for the privilege of using the fishing grounds.

Now, the Icelandic website, Icenews, says  the Althingi ( Parliament) Fisheries and Agriculture Committee has decided to request that the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture compile a report into the actual impacts of the present-day quota system.

The opposition party members of the committee called for a meeting today following the release of an report into the proposed changes claiming that the economic impacts could be severe. The bills’ supporters claim, however, that the nation’s fishing and fish stocks must be looked at from all angles; not just economics. It was agreed to ask the ministry to investigate the social and economic pros and cons of the current system.

The row has split the country down the middle. Opponents, which includes LIU, the Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners Federation,   have been given powerful  new ammunition following a warning to theIceland  government  from the  OECD economic and development agency  against experimenting with the quota system; claiming that there is very little that can actually be done to improve parts of the system people feel to be the least fair.

The country’s economic prospects are also improving says the OECD which predicts three per cent economic growth for Iceland amid growing consumer demand and lowering unemployment.

The OECD authors claim that Iceland has been unusually successful in sustainably exploiting its fish stocks due to the current quota system. While they acknowledge that it is unfair in many ways, the fact that most big operators have purchased their quota means that the government can do little to take it back. They suggest a hike in resource exploitation levies as the best way for the national coffers to net more fish money.