Capelin Spotted East of Greenland

Poor weather and sea ice have disrupted two research vessels that are now searching for capelin north and west of Iceland, RÚV reports. Expedition leader Birkir Bárðarson, currently on one of the vessels, says some capelin has been spotted at the edge of the ice sheet by Greenland, but there is not enough data to make a full picture yet.

Iceland’s capelin stock has been in decline over the last two years, likely due to rising ocean temperatures. Declining stocks mean no fishing quotas as the capelin population is allowed to rebound and this has been particularly hard on the economy of East Iceland; where the municipality of Fjarðarbyggð, for example, received and processed 47% of Iceland’s capelin catch in 2018.

The ongoing expedition is carried out jointly by Iceland and Greenland. The ships set out on September 7 and have since crossed a large area from Southeast Greenland, eastward along Iceland’s north coast. Birkir says that there was no capelin to be found north of Iceland, but some were spotted along the East Greenland continental shelf.

The research vessels will continue their search northward along Greenland’s east coast. “There is no complete picture we can read yet,” Birkir stated. “But we’ve been seeing capelin here for the last few days.”

Akureyri City Council Abolishes Governing Majority

There is no longer a governing majority nor an opposing minority in the City Council of Akureyri, North Iceland, RÚV reports. Instead, all hands are on deck: councillors from all parties will work together for the remainder of this term in an attempt to tackle the large operational deficit facing the region’s largest town.

“We face big projects ahead, both due to the pandemic and the conditions of society today, and we believe that we will achieve better results if we all work together on those projects,” stated Halla Björk Reynisdóttir, the council’s president and councillor for the party L-listinn.

After the last municipal elections, the Progressive Party, Social Democratic Alliance, and L-listinn formed a governing majority. The Independence Party, Left-Green Party, and Centre Party formed the opposing minority in the 11-seat council. Now those alignments have been abolished. In order to redistribute authority, councillors from the former minority parties have taken over chairmanship in five of the city’s boards and councils (chairmanship of the largest boards and councils remains unchanged).

The new council was announced in a press conference at cultural centre Hof in Akureyri yesterday. Akureyri’s operational deficit this year is projected at ISK 3 billion ($21.7m/€18.6m), and the council’s governing agreement outlines austerity measures in order to turn the trend around. These measures include sale of property, a revision of senior officials’ salaries, and an increase in tariffs.

Independence Party Councillor Gunnar Gíslason says the reorganisation of Akureyri’s City Council is meant to help councillors “reach a consensus on what measures we take to reverse this [financial] development.”

Prime Minister and Health Minister Test Negative for COVID-19

COVID-19 tightening restrictions

Neither Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir nor Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir have COVID-19. Both ministers got tested due to experiencing flu symptoms. All of Iceland’s ministers have now had to be tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, RÚV reports.

Neither Katrín nor Svandís were in attendance at a cabinet meeting yesterday morning as they had both been experiencing flu symptoms. Katrín announced afterwards that she had tested negative for COVID-19, and that influenza was the culprit that had “knocked out half [her] household.” Svandís was also tested yesterday after experiencing flu symptoms.

Much of Iceland’s cabinet needed to get tested following a dinner at Hotel Rangá last month, after a staff member of the hotel had tested positive for COVID-19. All of the cabinet has been tested at least once for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In her Facebook post, Katrín encouraged all Icelanders to practice individual preventative measures. “We must all be careful, let’s remember to wash our hands, use hand sanitiser, keep our distance and do everything we can together to bring down this third wave of the virus.”