Capelin Brings in ISK 16.4 Billion

loðna capelin fish

In the first 5 months of the year, Iceland exported around 26,000 tonnes of capelin products for ISK 16.4 billion [$132.4 million, €111.9 million]. After a two-year shortage of capelin, the price has risen and the average price per kilo has reached record highs.

Capelin is one of the most important fish stocks in Iceland, accounting for around 13% of export earnings: only cod brings in more. About 70% of capelin fished in Icelandic waters is sold to the Asian market, with Japan being the biggest buyer though sales to China are increasing.

Stocks of capelin have been volatile, making it difficult to predict or plan fishing seasons. Still, in recent years, most of the world’s capelin catch has been caught off the coast of Iceland. This year it took Icelandic capelin fishing vessels only one month to catch the allotted quota though it was raised several times.

Export value of the fish has risen even though export figures for the last season have not been finalised.

Króna Strengthens as Corona Wanes

Why is Iceland so expensive?

The Icelandic króna has risen in value against the Euro this summer and in fact has been strengthening against the Euro since the beginning of this year, RÚV reports. At the start of 2021, one euro cost ISK 157, while now it costs ISK 147.

According to Daníel Svavarsson, director of Landsbanki’s Economics Department, the foreign exchange market is extremely driven by expectations and the boom at the beginning of the year was largely based on what could be called vaccination optimism. In recent weeks, investments related to the large share offerings of Íslandsbanki and the airline PLAY have also made an impact.

“The biggest reason is the success of vaccinations and the fact that the pandemic has been steadily declining, which has increased optimism in the tourism industry,” says Daníel. “In recent weeks, the main forces have been linked to the flow of foreign investors into the stock market.”

Asked whether he expects the Central Bank to respond to the increased appreciation of the króna, Daníel says he does not foresee that the bank will fix the exchange rate to a certain value. “On the other hand, the Central Bank has been very active in the market in coming in and evening out fluctuations, whether strengthening or weakening.”

Daníel expects the króna to continue appreciating in the near future, though he warns it can always fluctuate in both directions in the short term. “Looking ahead to the next six months, I now rather expect it to be on the strengthening side. Given the current situation and the good performance of the tourism industry, where the resurrection has been faster than people dared to hope, I now rather expect it to continue to be relatively strong.”

Volcanic Gases Cause Haze and Breathing Issues

Reykjanes Eruption

Gases from the ongoing eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula may lead to fewer sunny days this summer, Vísir reports. Eruption gases have been creating a haze in the capital area in recent days and causing discomfort for people with asthma or other lung conditions. Air quality specialist Þorsteinn Jóhannsson says locals should get into the habit of monitoring air quality in their surroundings.

Though weather has been sunny in the capital area recently, lately the sunshine has been obscured by a mist known as volcanic haze. “Volcanic haze is not the usual ash plume that comes directly from the eruption, which is primarily sulphur dioxide. It can be an old or developed plume that has been floating around for 3-4 days just off the coast and then comes onto land again and then it’s been turned into sulphur particulate matter. That refracts light so it is seen as a haze,” Þorsteinn explains.

According to Þorsteinn, volcanic haze is more common on warm, sunny days and can also boost the formation of regular fog. Though the eruption is on Iceland’s southwest tip, the haze can travel anywhere in the country, such as Akureyri, North Iceland, where it was observed some weeks ago.

Volcanologists have stated the Reykjanes eruption could last years or even decades. “If this eruption persists, we need to put ourselves in eruption air quality gear and keep a close eye on it,” Þorsteinn says. “One can’t recommend running a long race in heavy pollution, it’s usually possible to go between houses, but sensitive people should avoid being outdoors if there is a lot of volcanic haze.”

Air quality in Iceland can be monitored on loftgaedi.is.

Demand Investigation into Reykjavík Orphanages

Five men that were placed in Reykjavík orphanages during the last century are calling on city authorities to conduct an investigation into the institutions and their impact on the children put in their care, Vísir reports. In a 1967 headline, the orphanages were described as a “breeding ground for mental infirmity.” The group says their stays at the institutions caused them and their families harm.

Árni H. Kristjánsson, Fjölnir Geir Bragason, Hrafn Jökulsson, Tómas V. Albertsson and Viðar Eggertson demand the City of Reykjavík appoint a team of specialists to investigate the operations of the Hlíðarendi Orphanage as well as the Thorvaldsenfélag Orphanage, which were run by city authorities between 1949 and 1973. In a letter they have sent to city officials, the group references the words of Dr. Sigurjón Björnsson, a former city councillor, who has shown that children placed in the orphanages were permanently harmed due to “disruption of their emotional development.”

Children at the orphanages most often had living parents. Their mothers who were disadvantaged – young, single, or poor – and caved to pressure from authorities who deemed them unfit to care for their children. RÚV reports that the institutions resembled hospitals: painted white and with minimal furniture, where staff only attended to children’s physical needs but deprived them of the touch, love, and stimulation required for healthy development. Parents were only allowed to visit at very restricted times and then only to see their children through a glass barrier.

The orphanages were harshly criticised even during their operation. “It’s necessary to review how many children were placed in the orphanages during their period of operation; their health after their stay and how well they managed to find their footing in life,” the letter from the five men states. The men will meet with Reykjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson tomorrow.