Government Takes Over Foreigner’s Fjord Purchase Skip to content

Government Takes Over Foreigner’s Fjord Purchase

The Icelandic state has purchased Hellisfjörður fjord in East Iceland, RÚV reports. A German entrepreneur had arranged to buy the land for ISK 40 million ($326,000/€291,000), when the Ministry for the Environment suggested the government use its pre-emptive rights to take over the contract. The goal of the purchase is to protect the mostly untouched land from development.

Uninhabited with no roads

According to Icelandic laws on nature conservation, the National Treasury has a pre-emptive right to purchase land and other property that is in whole or part on the Nature Conservation registry (Nátturuminjaskrá). The property in Hellisfjörður, located just south of Neskaupsstaður, measures 1,900 hectares (4,700 acres).

The fjord housed a whaling station in the early 20th century, but is currently uninhabited, though a handful of summer houses are located there. There is no road into the fjord and no electricity lines, and the government’s 2009-2013 nature conservation plan called for the fjord to be declared a nature reserve.

Rare, endangered plant species

The Environment Ministry and the Icelandic Institute of Natural History both called the fjord unique and worthy of conservation. In the statement from the Environment Ministry to the Ministry of Finance, it was stated that the fjord was an uninhabited wilderness little touched by humans, and it was important to let the nature in the area develop without the strain of human activity, as it would be vulnerable to any disruption. Vegetation in the fjord includes rare plant species, some of which are in danger of extinction, and the preservation of the area was stated to be important on a global scale.

Planned to farm fish

German entrepreneur Sven Jakobi had purchased the land through the company Vatnssteinn. According to the business registry, the company operates in freshwater fish farming. Sven had told local authorities he hoped to develop fishing in the area and possibly even build a harbour in the fjord.

The government has used its pre-emptive rights to purchase other properties with the aim of conservation. These include Teigarhorn by Djúpivogur (East Iceland), Fell by Jökulsárlón (South Iceland), and the land around by Geysir (Southwest Iceland).

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