A Vanishing Act

It’s a spectacularly beautiful August day and I’m standing on Sólheimajökull glacier. With me is Ryan, a glacier guide and one of the founders of the tour operator Hidden Iceland. Ryan, who was born in Scotland, has been living in Iceland for two and a half years. He exudes the sort of gentle enthusiasm that makes you think that if people could love anything as much as he loves glaciers, humanity would be saved.

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Faces of the Earth

Ragnar Axelsson

Ragnar Axelsson is on a mission. The best-known photographer in Iceland has for decades pointed his camera at disappearing culture and documented the life of the people of the Arctic. His earlier books have revolved around people living in close proximity to nature. This time, he’s doing something different – a book on glaciers, nearly […]

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The People’s History

Archaeologist Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir is uncovering the history of Iceland’s executions – and the social injustice they have concealed for centuries. January 12, 1830. A crowd of 150 is gathered at Þrístapar, three modest hillocks in a barren field in North Iceland. The group, mostly local farmers and labourers, have been summoned to witness the execution […]

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Tongue Twister

Ah, the Icelandic language. It’s the ancient tongue of Vikings, filled with beautiful yet frightening words like ferðaáætlun (how many different a’s can there be?), þátttakandi (three t’s in a row? Is that legal?) and tunglsljós (do they even have room for all those consonants on an island?). Icelandic is often portrayed as an impossible […]

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Lobster Stocks Historically Low

Lobster numbers in Icelandic waters have reached a historic low, RÚV reports. Numbers of lobsters under five years old are particularly low, showing the stock may be having trouble reproducing.

“We are at almost eight years where young lobsters have been little to none. And there are few populations that can handle that for long.” Jónas Páll Jónsson, ichthyologist at the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute stated. Norway lobster, also known as langoustine, is the only type of lobster found in Icelandic waters. While langoustine can be found as far south as the coast of Morocco, they reproduce slower in colder environments. Females in Icelandic waters lay eggs only every other year.

While five years ago, 2,000 tonnes of lobster were caught in Icelandic waters, last season the amount was just 820 tonnes. A lobster fishing ban is one measure authorities are considering to combat the issue, as well as closing off lobster nesting areas to other kinds of fishing activity.

A lobster fishing ban would be a blow to at least three companies who provide employment to many Icelanders over the 7-8 month season of fishing and processing. Vinnslustöðin, in the Westman Islands, is one of those companies. “People get employment out of this and lobster is a valuable product. The income it generates is truly important. It would be a blow if we couldn’t catch any lobster,” said Sverrir Haraldsson, a department manager at the company.

Jónas says more research is needed to know exactly what is happening to the lobster stocks. Continued fishing, in modest amounts, could provide scientists with helpful data.

In Focus: Up in the Air

WOW - Icelandair - Keflavík Airport

The world of Icelandic aviation has been showing signs of tremors recently. Even though the number of travellers in Iceland is at a high point, the two companies responsible for transporting them to the North Atlantic are floundering. Airlines Icelandair and WOW air, albeit vastly different, face similar threats to their business. Icelandair is the […]

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Growth and Uncertainty in the Cards for Tourism Industry

Many variables could affect the tourism industry in Iceland over the coming years, according to an economic and inflation forecast of Landsbankinn bank, presented at a meeting in Harpa yesterday morning. Economist Gústaf Steingrímsson presented a lecture on the topic titled “Tourism Has Reached Flying Altitude.” RÚV reported first.

“The outlook is in itself good. Growth has significantly reduced, and we already knew the growth was unsustainable,” Gústav stated. “So we are going to see less growth over the next years, but we still expect tourism to grow and that the number of tourists will increase. But the increase [in tourist numbers] will be small.”

Gústav added, however, that many variables could affect the industry’s growth, for better or worse. “International economic factors, the development of oil prices, flight prices and then of course operational and financial difficulties especially at WOW air and airlines’ operational environment globally is very difficult and WOW air and Icelandair are feeling that very much.”

Two Deaths and Two Arrests in Selfoss Fire

A house fire in Selfoss, South Iceland, has led to two deaths, RÚV reports. Two individuals are in custodyin relation to the fire, though they have not yet been questioned due to their state.

Police were informed about the fire shortly before 4.00pm yesterday, which had trapped a man and a woman on the upper floor. Firefighting crews were on the scene late into the night fighting the flames and securing the area. They were able to reach the upper floor only this morning, confirming the two had lost their lives.

The site has been formally handed over to the police, who are investigating the incident. The cause of the fire is still unknown. The individuals in custody will be questioned later today.