Coastal fishermen are disappointed with the decision of the Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries not to increase this year’s cod quota. About 700 boats will likely be docked next week, with nearly two months left of the fishing season, RÚV reports.
At the end of June, the National Association of Small Boat Owners formally requested that the Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries increase the coastal fishing quota by 4,000 tonnes of cod so that fishing could continue throughout the entirety of the season, which concludes at the end of August. (The coastal fishing season is four months.)
Örn Pálsson, the director of the association, told RÚV that the state of the cod stock was strong and that new measurements indicated that the total allowable catch could be significantly increased this year. “All fishermen agree that there has seldom been as much cod in the sea as there is this year,” Örn remarked.
Yesterday, Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir announced that there was no leeway to increase the coastal fishing quota. In a written response to the National Association of Small Boat Owners, the minister stated that the quota for the current fishing year had already been allocated, including the quota for coastal fishing, and that the ministry did not possess the legal authority to agree to the association’s request. In light of this, coastal fishermen will likely have to stop fishing by the middle of next week.
According to the law on coastal fishing, the Ministry must stop fishing when the total allowable catch for the season is reached.
Angry and disappointed
Patreksfjörður is the largest base for coastal fishing. In an interview with RÚV, Einar Helgason, the Chairman of Krókur, the association of small boat owners in Barðaströnd county, stated that fishermen in the area were “angry and disappointed.”
Einar maintained that the minister’s decision not to act to save the fishing season had come as a big shock: various ways had been suggested that would be able to increase the quota. Einar estimated that about 100 small boats set off for coastal fishing from the southern coast of the Westfjords. Given this, there was a lot at stake, with very few fishermen being able to turn to other kinds of fishing.
Expects fishermen to take action
Einar told RÚV that he expected coastal fishermen to take action and protest. “Yes, but I’m unwilling to go into the details. Unfortunately, in most people’s opinion, there is little that can be done to inspire a reaction from the minister. But we have to react.”
Einar added that he felt that Minister Svandís, and politicians, in general, had shown little support for coastal fishermen. “I’m just going to speak for myself: I have been very disappointed with the minister. She speaks as if she is our minister, the coastal-fishermen minister, which was how she described herself at the association’s annual meeting. But her actions reveal something entirely different.”