Vigdís Finnbogadóttir’s Formative Years Subject of New Series

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir

Icelandic director Baldvin Z (Lof mér að falla, Vonarstræti) is working on a four-part series on the life of Iceland’s first female President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, RÚV reports. Vigdís was the first woman to be democratically elected as a Head of State in the world and to this day remains the longest-serving elected female head of state of any country.

The series is to focus on the period of Vigdís’ life from her teenage years until she became President of Iceland in 1980. The screenplay was written by three women: Björg Magnúsdóttir, Jana María Guðmundsdóttir, and Ágústa Ólafsdóttir, who have put years of research into the project. Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir (Trapped) has been cast as adult Vigdís in the series, but the role of teenage Vigdís is yet to be filled. Vigdís, who turned 90 last year, reportedly had a hand in casting Nina Dögg to play herself and has been consulting with the actress on the role.

The series is expected to go into production at the end of this year or in early 2022.

Capelin Catch Quotas Raised Three Times

overfishing iceland

Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) has raised its capelin catch quota for the 2020-2021 season, advising that catch should not exceed 61,000 tonnes. MFRI originally issued a catch limit of 21,800 tonnes in December, then raising it to 54,200 tonnes on January 22. The quota was raised a third time on January 24, to 61,000 tonnes, after a mistake in the calculations of capelin stock sizes was discovered. Fishing and processing of capelin is a key pillar of industry in many small communities across Iceland.

Iceland’s capelin stock was assessed to be in decline over the last two years, a development experts have linked to rising ocean temperatures. No capelin quota was given out in 2019 after stocks were found to be too low. In South Iceland’s Westman Islands, that decision that impacted 350 employees directly and led to a loss of wages of at least ISK 1 billion ($7.9m/€7.25m). Several other communities in Iceland rely on capelin: in East Iceland, the municipality of Fjarðarbyggð received and processed 47% of Iceland’s capelin catch in 2018.

The results of one expedition in December and two in January have given an estimate that mature capelin (those capable of spawning) will exceed 150,000 tonnes in March 2021, taking into account predation. Together, the measurements reduce uncertainty in stock assessments, leading to the MFRI’s current catch quota of 61,000 tonnes.

Seyiðsfjörður Mudslides: Evacuation Lifted, Alert Level Lowered

Several residents of Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, can return to their homes now that the evacuation order on Hafnargata street has been lifted. The order applies to the houses standing under Múlinn: numbers 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16b, and 18c on Hafnargata street. Further risk of mudslides is no longer considered imminent and the National Police Commissioner and the Police Commissioner in East Iceland have decided to lower the civil protection phase in the town from danger alert to uncertainty phase. Danger alert has been in effect from December 20, when it was reduced from crisis phase, due to a large mudslide which fell last December 18.

Cleaning has been ongoing in the East Iceland town since several mudslides destroyed over a dozen buildings in the town, both residential and industrial, many of them historic. The houses under Múlinn have all been evacuated since December 18, when the largest of several mudslides fell on the town.

A notice from the Civil Protection and Emergency Management Department says cleaning efforts have been successful in recent weeks, and emergency levees to protect from further landslides have been completed in some areas. Further risk of mudslides is being closely monitored and “is not considered imminent in the coming days.” The levees are considered an interim solution while more permanent mudslide protection is being considered.

Read More: Seyðisfjörður Mudslides Destroy 14 Houses

Four residential buildings in the town, located by Stöðvarlækur creek, still remain evacuated. A specific risk assessment is being conducted for that area and results are expected in the next few days. Residents of the town have been warned to expect further evacuations in the coming months “if weather conditions become unfavourable or the weather forecast is for heavy rain.”

Iceland To Receive 13,800 Doses of AstraZeneca Vaccine in February

A screenshot from RÚV. First COVID-19 vaccines being administered in Iceland, December 29, 2020

Iceland will receive 13,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in February if Europe’s Medicines Agency issues a conditional marketing authorisation next Friday, RÚV reports. Based on numbers from Norwegian authorities, the doses for Iceland were supposed to have been close to 75,000 but AstraZeneca’s production issues have interfered.

AstraZeneca announced last Saturday that the company could not deliver on its first distribution schedule for the EU and that fewer doses of the vaccine would be shipped from its factories than hoped. The number of doses could reduce by 60%.

AstraZeneca’s announcement affects all countries that negotiate their vaccine acquisition through the European Union, Iceland as well. Even if Iceland never issued an exact number of doses they were expecting from AstraZeneca, Norwegian authorities had revealed that they were expecting 1.1 million doses. Iceland receives 6.8% of the doses that go to Norway, meaning that Iceland was likely set to receive 75,000 doses of the vaccine according to the now-obsolete distribution schedule, enough to vaccinate 37,000 people.

The Ministry of Health confirmed to RÚV that Iceland will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in the same proportions as other nations in Europe, stating: “It is to be assumed that the company’s production will increase in March which will affect the company’s distribution capacity.”

Iceland has signed deals to acquire 230,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, enough to vaccinate 115,000 Icelanders. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason stated at an information briefing yesterday that they were expecting to receive 2,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week and 1,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine. He also stated that according to distribution schedules currently in place, Iceland could expect to vaccinate 30,000 people before the end of March, but that there was still a great deal of uncertainty and plans were liable to change depending on pharmaceutical companies production capacity and new vaccines gaining conditional marketing authorisations. He did not include the planned February arrival of  13.800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in his numbers.