Image: Jelena Ćirić | Iceland Review

British Billionaire Buys Land to Protect Salmon

 In Nature, News

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe says his most recent land purchase in Iceland is part of ongoing measures to protect the country’s wild salmon stocks. Ratcliffe stated as much in a press release sent to RÚV this morning. The ultimate goal is to make salmon fishing in Iceland the best and most sustainable in the world.

The press release states that the British mogul has expanded his plans of investment in local projects in Iceland’s northeast region with the aim to protect salmon in the area’s main fishing rivers. Ratcliffe aims to protect the rivers’ surrounding land as well as the fragile ecosystem of the area as a whole.

“Overfishing threatens the North Atlantic salmon stock and it is decreasing in rivers everywhere. The north-eastern part of Iceland is one of few salmon spawning areas that has escaped [this trend] and I want to do what I can to protect the area,” Ratcliffe is quoted as saying in the press release. Ratcliffe owns other properties in the region, for example in Vopnafjörður, where he has made efforts toward conserving the unique nature of the area alongside residents and other landowners.

Holistic approach to conservation

The press release outlines conservation measures planned for the next five years, which include expanding the salmon spawning area by installing salmon ladders in Hafralónsá, Hofsá, and Miðfjarðará rivers in Vopnafjörður. Fertilised roe will also be released into the rivers, as well as into Selá, where Ratcliffe’s efforts are reportedly bearing fruit through a growing salmon population.

In collaboration with communities in the northeast, Ratcliffe is also working to combat soil erosion and improving the ecosystems surrounding salmon rivers, in part by supporting reforestation efforts. He is also conducting a long-term study of the wellbeing of Icelandic salmon in rivers and out at sea, in collaboration with the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute as well as local and international universities.

Foreigners’ land purchase a hot topic

Land purchase by foreigners has been in the public discourse lately, with many pointing out that Iceland’s regulations regarding the purchase of land by foreigners is more lax than in neighbouring countries. The Icelandic government is currently reviewing the existing legislation with the consideration of tightening requirements for land purchase.

Read more: Whose Land Is It Anyway?

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