Beached Whale Off Reykjavík Coast

whale

A dead whale stranded on the coast by the Grandi area, just west off the city centre, shortly after noon today. The exact species is not known but the Police, the Environment Agency of Iceland, as well as the local Public Health Office, have been notified. Part of the carcass has ballooned with gas, a common occurrence with beached whales.

Immigrant Proportion Grows Within Icelandic Labour Market

Immigrants were on average 19.2% of the total number of employed in Iceland in the first quarter of 2019, according to newly-released data from Statistics Iceland. The number of employed immigrants between 16 and 74 years of age was 36,844, of 192,232 total individuals employed. Though immigrants accounted for nearly one fifth of the labour market in the first quarter of 2019, they account for only 12.7% of the population.

Since the first quarter of 2013, the proportion of immigrants among those employed has grown in all regions of the country. The ratio was highest in the Southwest and the Westfjords in the first quarter of this year, while it was lowest in the Northwest.

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The data is part of a new publication of register based on information on those employed in the Icelandic labour market. Statistics Iceland categorises employees not born in Iceland and whose parents and grandparents are not born in Iceland as immigrants. Others are considered to have an Icelandic background.

Icelandic Lamb Exported to China This Fall

Icelandic lamb

Icelandic lamb producer Fjallalamb has been granted a licence to export lamb to China, RÚV reports. It is the first and only company to have received such a licence. Björn Víkingur Björnsson, Fjallalamb’s CEO, says he’s happy about the development, though Iceland will remain the company’s main market.

The company is licensed to begin export with the slaughter season this fall. Fjallalamb has been in talks with several interested buyers, but has yet to discuss the amount of product exported or the price. According to Björn, it’s not possible for Fjallalamb to sell all of their product on the Icelandic market, so the export licence is a welcome change. He adds, however, that he places importance on organising the export wisely and looking to the future.

Lamb needs to be from scrapie-free area

A health certification on Icelandic lamb is part of the requirements put forth in a trade agreement made between Iceland and China last fall. The exported meat may only come from lambs under six months of age which are born and bred in scrapie-free regions. Slaughterhouses, meat packing centres, and storage centres where the meat is processed or held must also be located in scrapie-free regions.

More producers could start export

Hjalti Andrason of the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority says four other slaughterhouses fulfil the health requirements for exporting lamb to China, and a fifth will do so next year. Lamb lovers in China can likely look forward to increased availability of the tasty product.

Hallgrímskirkja Tower Reopens

hallgrímskirkja reykjavík

Hallgrímskirkja tower reopened this morning following a five-week closure to replace its lift, mbl.is reports. The tower’s new lift travels 1.6m (5.3ft) per second, 60% faster than its predecessor.

Towering over downtown Reykjavík, Hallgrímskirkja church is a popular spot among tourists. Hundreds of thousands go up its tower every year to enjoy its panoramic view of the city. Admission to the tower earned the church ISK 238 million ($2.3 million/€2 million) in 2016.

At this time of year, the tower normally has some 1,000 visitors per day. Sigríður Hjálmarsdóttir, Hallgrímskirkja’s CEO, says many have been disappointed by the closure. “People don’t always take it well, but this is of course an important safety issue,” she stated. The tower’s previous lift was around 50 years old and therefore needed to be replaced. Unlike its predecessor, the new lift will be usable in emergencies.