Icelandic Minister in Fishing Controversy Skip to content

Icelandic Minister in Fishing Controversy

By Iceland Review

Media in Iceland are reporting that Minister for Education Illugi Gunnarsson went fishing last summer, and they are not happy about it.

Illugi has been under scrutiny in recent weeks for his connections with a company called Orka Energy and its chairman, Haukur Harðarson. Illugi volunteered the information to RÚV last weekend that he sold Haukur his apartment in Reykjavík, but it later came out that he had sold him his company OG Capital ehf. beforehand and the apartment immediately afterwards. It also raised questions and public debate when it was revealed that Illugi met with company representatives during an official visit to China last month, even though his ministerial remit does not cover international cooperation on energy matters.

The controversy around the fishing trip, according to Stundin, is that the minister was there fishing the river at the same time as Haukur Harðarson, at the most expensive time of year, when a permit costs ISK 2-300,000 (over 2,000 dollars or euros) per day without food or accommodation—but he received a discount. Vatnsdalsá is one of Iceland’s best salmon rivers and is frequented by world famous individuals including Eric Clapton.

His guide on Vatnsdalsá river says that to the best of his knowledge Illugi paid for his own permit, that he was fishing alone, and that he received a discount because a group of foreign tourists had dropped out at the last minute and had already paid part of the fee. Such discounts are not uncommon in that situation, he said.

Although the Orka Energy connection is interesting, there is nothing scandalous about a minister taking a fishing trip—apart from the fact that Stundin claims to have contacted both the minister and his assistant by phone and by email, but both have declined to answer any questions; as has Haukur Harðarson.

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