September 26, 2023


Iceland halts issuing new salmon farming permits



The Icelandic government has taken the decision to temporarily suspend the issuance of new permits for salmon farming, citing an escalating national discussion surrounding aquaculture, particularly in light of recent incidents, including fish escapes, Fish Farmer reported.


Svandis Svavarsdottir, Iceland's Minister of Food and Fisheries, emphasised the need to pause and assess the situation, expressing concern that the industry has experienced rapid growth without proportionate oversight.


A pivotal argument in this debate is that salmon farming expansion has occurred with relatively minimal regulatory scrutiny. Over the past decade, the aquaculture sector in Iceland has grown nearly sevenfold, with projections indicating that, based on existing permits alone, it could nearly double by 2030.


While the industry has brought substantial economic advantages, including the creation of numerous jobs in remote regions such as the Westfjords, which had previously relied on traditional fishing, concerns have mounted.


In the span of a decade, salmon production has surged from roughly 8,000 tonnes to over 50,000 tonnes in the previous year, leading to substantial growth in industry profits and a significant increase in tax revenue for the nation.


It is worth noting that a substantial portion of the investment in this sector originates from Norway, making Iceland potentially susceptible to decisions made beyond its borders.


Recently, the Iceland government also instituted a temporary halt to whaling, a centuries-old activity deeply rooted in coastal communities.


Recent incidents involving salmon escapes have amplified calls for stricter regulations on open-pen salmon farming, even in regions where it has delivered economic benefits.


The Reykjavik government anticipates unveiling a comprehensive national aquaculture strategy, likely in early 2024, which is expected to incorporate limits on salmon farming capacity.


-      Fish Farmer

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