On the Record: Inside Iceland’s music studios

Valgeir Sigurðsson Greenhouse Studios

Long before outsiders looked to Iceland for the latest in music, Icelanders looked outward. Infatuated with American music, locals in the 1950s and 1960s started jazz and rock groups that took to the nation’s stages and made the public dance. While they had their share of performance opportunities, when it came to recording, there were no professional studios in the country.

This content is only visible under subscription. Subscribe here or log in.

Continue reading

Asylum Seekers Protest at Keflavik Airport

Keflavík Airport

Asylum seekers came together yesterday in the Departures Hall of Keflavík International Airport to protest deportations, RÚV reports. The protest was aimed at Icelandair, the only airline which transports asylum seekers who are being deported from Iceland.

A group of 30-40 asylum seekers gathered in peaceful protest at the airport. The event was the second protest this month organised by asylum seekers in Iceland. The activist group Ekki fleiri brottvísanir (En. No more deportations) assisted in organising the event. The protesters’ list of five demands include a complete stop to the deportation of asylum seekers, no more application of the Dublin Regulation, as well as work permits and equal health care access for all asylum seekers.

Dispute Legality of Strike Vote

Wage negotiations

The Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) has called for Efling Union to stop collecting members’ votes on a proposed hotel workers’ strike set to take place on March 8. In a press release on their website, SA states the vote is being conducted illegally and threatened to bring the case before the Labour Court. Efling representatives insist the union is in the right.

After wage negotiations broke down between SA and workers’ unions last week, Efling Union began to prepare for strike action. The proposed one-day strike would occur on March 8, applying to Efling members who work in cleaning, housekeeping, and laundry services in hotels and guest houses in the Reykjavík capital area as well as some nearby municipalities. Workers to whom the strike pertains have until Thursday to vote on the issue.

SA asserts that according to the Unions and Labour Disputes Act, only union members directly affected by a proposed strike are permitted to vote on the action. Efling, says SA, is inviting 8,000 members to vote though they have estimated the strike would affect around 700.

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, Efling’s chairperson, says that SA’s opposition does not come as a surprise. She adds, however, that the vote has been organised carefully and with legal counsel. “We are fully confident that we are doing everything correctly,” she stated.

Capelin Stocks in Poor Shape

Fishing Harbour

Four research expeditions have found capelin stocks in Icelandic waters to be in poor shape, RÚV reports. As a result, the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) will not permit fishing of the species this coming season. Capelin is the second most important export species of fish in Iceland after cod, and a lack of catch would impact not only fishing communities but also the country’s overall economy.

Economically crucial

Capelin is a small fish of the smelt family, ecologically important as a food source for cod, seals, whales, and puffins, among other marine species. According to Landsbankinn bank, export value of capelin amounted to ISK 17.8 billion ($149m/€131m) in 2018, or roughly 0.6% of Iceland’s total GDP.

Environmental changes are a factor

Capelin has often stumped Icelandic fisherman due to its unpredictable migration patterns. Director of MFRI’s Pelagic Fisheries Division Þorsteinn Sigurðsson, however, says environmental changes are also a factor. “We have been linking this to these environmental changes that have been taking place over the past 20 years. Two to three thousand tonnes are considered just fine today. While we were fishing one and a half million tonnes 25 years ago,” Þorsteinn remarked. “This is not a good outlook but it should be noted that the forecast value of the data is not particularly good.”

Storm Rages Across Iceland

storm weather iceland

Storms affecting most of the country, particularly Southeast and East Iceland, have damaged property and put travellers in danger. According to the Icelandic Met Office, storm conditions are expected to continue into the evening. Residents and tourists alike are advised against travelling in the affected areas.

Search and rescue called out

Search and rescue teams in Southeast Iceland were called out around 5.00am this morning to assist travellers stuck between Hornafjörður and Djúpivogur. Weather appeared to have broken windows on the vehicle and the travellers did not feel safe either continuing nor turning back.

Search and rescue teams were also called to Höfn and Djúpivogur due to roofs being blown off and other damaged property. A widespread power outage in South Iceland early this morning appears to have been caused by the storm. Power is now back on in the region.

Flights and buses cancelled

Domestic flights to Egilsstaðir and Húsavík have been cancelled today due to the weather, as well as morning flights to Akureyri. Public buses have been cancelled between Vík and Höfn in South Iceland, as well as Akureyri and Egilsstaðir. Buses from Akureyri to Siglufjörður and Húsavík were cancelled this morning, but may operate later today if conditions improve.

Storm continues into evening

Rain and southwest winds at speeds of 23-30m/s are expected in most parts of Iceland today, though conditions will improve somewhat in the afternoon. East Iceland can expect strong gales into the evening, while falling temperatures will bring sleet and snow to the north of the country. Swelling rivers in Southeast Iceland could lead to landslides or slush floods.