Iceland raises farmed fish quota by 34,000 tonnes

Iceland salmon production has the potential to grow beyond 100,000 tonnes

ICELAND has dramatically increased the amount of farmed fish that can be produced in the country each year.

The Marine Research Institute (MRI) has recently carried out an updated risk assessment and set a figure of 105,000 tonnes, most of which is certain to be salmon. This compares with the MRI’s earlier maximum of 71,000 tonnes.

However, with salmon farming in Iceland at a relatively recent development stage, especially compared to rival countries such as Norway and Scotland, it may be some while yet before the new figure is reached.

Ragnar Jóhannsson, director of aquaculture at the MRI, has published the new risk assessment, which is based on genetic mixing.

Fish farming in Iceland is generally restricted to two main areas of the country, the Westfjords and the eastern region.

Both have benefited considerably from the investment in new jobs and the reviving of once traditional fishing communities.

And opposition from the conventional fishing sector is subsiding, with some companies now thinking of branching into aquaculture.

Hostility from sports fishing and environmental groups, however, remains as strong as ever.

The new figure for the Westfjords has been set at 61,500 tonnes, compared with 50,000 tonnes in the previous recommendation

The two busiest communities are currently Arnarfjordur and Tálknafjörður, and Patreksfjörður (both 20,000 tonnes apiece).

The east fjords has been allowed to double output to 42,000 tonnes, with the main beneficiaries being Berufjörður (7,500 tonnes), Fáskrúðsfjörður (12,000 tonnes), and, largest of all, Reyðarfjörður at 16,000 tonnes – along with 6,500 tonnes in the old fishing port of Seyðisfjörður.