Never Fewer Accidents at Sea

iceland fishing

While it can seem that bad news is coming from all directions these days, good news is to be found at sea.

2021 saw the fewest accidents at sea reported to the Social Insurance Administration and Icelandic Health Insurance since an incident registry for the fishing industry was established in 1966, MBL.is reports.

There were 108 incidents at sea reported in 2021, down from 153 in 2020 and 227 in 2019. Records from the Icelandic Transport Authority show there were 286 reported incidents the year the registry began.

2021 was the fifth year in a row that no Icelander died at sea.

The single worst year for the safety of Icelandic seafarers was 1989, when a total of 631 incidents at sea were registered. Overall, the number of cases began to decrease a few years after the Fishermen’s Accident Prevention School was established in 1985.

Thanks to the vigilance of the fishermen

Heiðrún Lind Marteinsdóttir, CEO of the Association of Companies in the Fisheries Sector, told MBL she chalks the decrease in accidents up to the vigilance of fishermen and increased awareness of the importance of safety at sea.

She said fisheries companies have taken security issues seriously, pointing out that investments in new vessels have resulted in better working and living conditions at sea. “There are many factors contributing to this success, but first and foremost, I think it is the crew themselves who deserve the biggest share of the credit here,” Heiðrún Lind said.

Insurance costs should fall for the fishing industry

Chairman of the Icelandic Seamen’s Association Valmundur Valmundsson said he is pleased with the latest numbers but added, “We can always do better, preferably, so there are no accidents at sea.”

“Seafarers should be able to walk home safely from work. That is the goal of all of us who work on these issues,” he said.

Valmundur said he hopes that increased safety at sea will reduce insurance costs for the fishing industry.

Record Number of COVID-19 Hospitalizations

landspítali hospital

Iceland hit a new pandemic milestone, with 75 patients with COVID-19 currently being treated at the National University Hospital in Reykjavík — a pandemic record, surpassing the November 2020 high of 66 people with COVID-19 in hospital.

Five patients are currently in intensive care, and one of them is on a ventilator.

As reported Monday, there are currently patients with COVID-19 in 15 separate wards of the National University Hospital in Reykjavík. The average age of those admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 is 67.

Read More: What’s the Status of COVID-19 in Iceland?

Two men in their 70s died in the intensive care unit Monday, Visir.is reports. Their deaths follow that of a woman in her 50s, who passed away from COVID-19 complications Sunday. The total number of COVID-19 casualties in Iceland now stands at 73.

A total of 3,316 new coronavirus infections were diagnosed in Iceland on Monday, according to COVID.is. The majority of diagnoses (3,188) were made via rapid tests, with 44% of the 7,497 total swabs taken coming back positive.

 

76 Ukrainians Have Applied For Asylum in Iceland

Protest

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 76 Ukrainians have applied for asylum in Iceland, Border Division Police Chief Jón Pétur Jónsson told MBL.is.

However, an even higher number of Ukrainian nationals arriving in Iceland recently could indicate that many are exercising their right to reside in the country for up to three months before officially applying for protection. Jón Pétur said border police could not rule out that scenario.

He said authorities are considering increasing the preparedness level at the border to better handle the stress of arrivals from Ukraine on the immigration system. Iceland’s Social Affairs Minister Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson will appoint a special response team to coordinate the reception of refugees from Ukraine.

“We are looking holistically at the reception system, from the time an individual arrives in the country until they receive services,” Jón Pétur said. “The reception system is resetting itself now that Article 44 of the Foreign Nationals Act is active.”

Article 44 of the Foreign Nationals Act provides for the collective protection of foreign nationals in the event of mass exodus. Justice Minister Jón Gunnarsson triggered the article on March 3.

Including the recent applicants from Ukraine, 320 individuals have applied for asylum in Iceland so far this year — a seven-year high.