Outlook Bleak for Iceland’s Fishing Industry Skip to content

Outlook Bleak for Iceland’s Fishing Industry

Minister of Fisheries Einar K. Gudfinnsson revealed his decision on the quota for the next fishing season yesterday. The quota for haddock, coalfish and redfish will be cut and the cod quota remain at 130,000 tons. Fishermen say the coming year will be difficult.

“It is evident that it will be a difficult year for many with such little cod,” Fridrik J. Arngrímsson, managing director of the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners (LÍÚ), told Morgunbladid. Last year, a drastic cut to the cod fishing quota was made, causing recession in the fishing industry.

LÍÚ believes the cod quota should have been higher. “It is too low considering the earnings of individuals and companies when no risk had been taken with a quota of 150,000 to 160,000 tons,” Arngrímsson said.

Arnar Sigmundsson, chairman of the Association of Fish Processing Plants, agrees. “We have the opinion that the cut to the cod quota last year had been too high and emphasized that opinion now so we thought it would be natural that the quota would be higher [this year].”

Saevar Gunnarsson, chairman of the Association of Fishermen, is pessimistic. “This will be a horrible year. We anticipate a vast recession in the earnings of fishermen and fishing companies. There is nothing positive about it.”

The quota cut issued by the Ministry of Fisheries is however not as drastic as the Icelandic Marine Research Institute had proposed.

The Marine Research Institute proposed a cod quota of 124,000 tons, but Minister Gudfinnsson decided to keep the promise he made last year, that the cod fishing quota will not be lower than 130,000 tons, Morgunbladid reports.

Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde said the government backs Gudfinsson’s decision.

“I made the decision to take advantage of the strong position of stocks where circumstances allowed,” Gudfinnsson told Fréttabladid. “A high haddock quota helped fishing companies steer through a period of difficulties caused by last year’s cut.”

Gunnlaugur Júlíusson, economist at the Association of Local Authorities in Iceland, said last year’s quota cut had significant effects on companies and local authorities. However, the current depreciation of the ISK may be positive for companies involved in export of seafood, because they receive a higher price in ISK for their products.

But that could backfire, Júlíusson warned, because many fishing companies have loans in foreign currencies that grow when the ISK drops.

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