East Iceland’s aquaculture industry is set to expand significantly in the next few years, with more fish farms and a packaging plant in the works in locations such as Djúpivogur and Seyðisfjörður. RÚV reports that Norwegian company Måsøval has acquired a controlling share of aquaculture in the region and is calling for renovations to Egilsstaðir airport that would allow it to export salmon directly from the region to Asia and North America. Some East Iceland residents are, however, unhappy with the planned developments.
Development in Djúpivogur
Norwegian company, Måsøval, has bought a majority share of Fiskeldi Austfjarða from a former (also Norwegian) shareholder. Måsøval already holds majority ownership of Laxar, the other aquaculture company operating in East Iceland, and therefore now controls the majority of aquaculture in the region. This acquisition paves the way for the two companies to collaborate more in the future or possibly even merge.
The two companies already run a joint slaughterhouse for farmed salmon in Djúpivogur, called Búlandstindur, where they have invested in sorting and packaging equipment that processes 20 boxes of fish per minute. Búlandstindur CEO Elís Hlynur Grétarsson says further expansion is planned at the company, which expects to process 12,000 tonnes of salmon this year and 15,000-16,000 next year.
The plant currently has to transport polystyrene boxes from Hafnarfjörður but plans to build a facility in Djúpivogur to make the packaging locally. They also hope to be able to export the salmon from nearby Egilsstaðir airport rather than transporting it across the country to Keflavík as they do now. Transporting the salmon by land to Keflavík “is rather costly, according to Elís, who says “Our biggest dream is that there would be international flights from Egilsstaðir. Especially longer routes such as to America and Asia. All that is needed is to build up the airport in Egilsstaðir. First and foremost, I think the runway needs to be a little longer.” Other seafood companies in the region would no doubt benefit from such a possibility as well.
Seyðisfjörður Residents Oppose Fish Farm in Fjord
Some local residents are not happy with Fiskeldi Austfjarða’s plans to establish more fish farms in the region, RÚV reports. A group of residents in Seyðisfjörður is collecting signatures in opposition to a planned 10,000 tonne salmon farm in the picturesque fjord.
Benedikta Guðrún Svavarsdóttir and Bergný Guðmundsdóttir, who run the hostel Hafaldan in Seyðisfjörður, are behind the petition. They have been making the rounds to collect signatures and say that it has been going well. “The vast majority of people said thank you for coming and signed,” Benedikta stated. “The had informed themselves on the matter and were quite adamant that this was not the future of Seyðisfjörður. Not of benefit to Seyðisfjörður.”
Opposition to the fish farms in Seyðisfjörður centres on their visual impact, which some argue would spoil the experience for the fjord’s many visitors, particularly those who arrive on the Norræna ferry, which connects Seyðisfjörður with the Faroe Islands and Nordic region. “They don’t go together,” Benedikta stated.