Ice­land com­mu­ni­ties in fish farm­ing plea

Fish Farmer - - European News -

‘DON’T shut us out of plans to ex­pand aqua­cul­ture’ - that’s the plea from a grow­ing num­ber of coastal com­mu­ni­ties in Ice­land fol­low­ing a ma­jor risk as­sess­ment on the ge­netic im­pact of salmon farm­ing on wild fish stocks.

Pro­gres­sive Party MP Gun­nar Bragi Sveins­son pleaded in a re­cent ar­ti­cle that there are no grounds for clos­ing the Isafjord re­gion, which he rep­re­sents, to aqua­cul­ture.

And two fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties on Ice­land’s north east coast have also ex­pressed fears they could be ig­nored, re­sult­ing in eco­nomic stag­na­tion.

A re­cent as­sess­ment or­dered by Ice­land’s Marine Re­search In­sti­tute (MRI) warned against sit­ing fish farms in ar­eas such as Isafjord.

Sveins­son has spo­ken out on the pos­i­tive so­cial im­pact of fish farm­ing, adding that it should be pos­si­ble to de­vise ef­fec­tive mea­sures to pre­vent farmed and wild salmon be­com­ing mixed up.

He said there was no rea­son why Ice­land should not be able to build fish farms by care­ful plan­ning and learn­ing from the mis­takes made in other coun­tries.

He also re­ferred to the de­cline in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in his re­gion over the last 30 years. The state, he added, should not pre­vent what was ‘en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly food pro­duc­tion’.

Ice­land has sig­nalled a ma­jor ex­pan­sion of its fish farm­ing op­er­a­tions, but with most of the pro­duc­tion based in the west of the coun­try. Ice­land even­tu­ally plans to pro­duce more than 70,000 tonnes of farmed salmon each year.

Mean­while, the town coun­cil in Fjarðabyggð (pop­u­la­tion 4,675) and the mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil of Djú­pavogshrep­pur (pop­u­la­tion 450) in the east of the coun­try have submitted a res­o­lu­tion say­ing they were deeply con­cerned about the fu­ture of fish farm­ing in their re­gion in the light of the MRI report.

They are ar­gu­ing that ex­pe­ri­ence in the West­fjords has shown that aqua­cul­ture re­mains one of the main op­por­tu­ni­ties for the eco­nomic and so­cial devel­op­ment of iso­lated ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties such as Fjarðabyggð and Djú­pavogshrep­pur.

Their claim is backed up by a report from the re­gional em­ploy­ment and devel­op­ment de­part­ment which showed that the growth in aqua­cul­ture had brought pos­i­tive ben­e­fits to ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties by in­creas­ing em­ploy­ment and re­vers­ing pop­u­la­tion de­cline.

The two com­mu­ni­ties have asked for a meet­ing with the Min­is­ter for Fish­eries and Agri­cul­ture, Þorg­erður Ka­trín Gun­nars­dót­tir, and the se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the Marine Re­search In­sti­tute at the ‘ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity’ so they can put their case and counter some of the claims in the MRI report.

Above: Some Ice­landic com­mu­ni­ties would wel­come salmon farms

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