Dissatisfied with Quota System, Fishermen Change Residence to Adapt Skip to content

Dissatisfied with Quota System, Fishermen Change Residence to Adapt

By Erik Pomrenke

fishing in Iceland
Photo: Golli.

Coastal fishing quotas have left many fishermen in the Northeast of Iceland dissatisfied with their share of the catch. Now, many of them find themselves changing their legal residence to skirt what they see as an unfair system.

The fishing quota system in Iceland allocates a TAC (Total Allowable Catch) for each species of fish with separate regulations for large-scale commercial fishing, and small boat fishers, who are limited to the use of handlines. The Icelandic fishing quota is distributed on a regional basis, ideally ensuring that no one region is exhausted of its fisheries.

However, many small boat fishermen are saying that this is not the case, and that by the time the fish make it to the Northeast, the stock is exhausted.

Guðmundur Baldursson, a fisherman from the Northeast of Iceland, said in an interview with RÚV that Northeastern fishermen are increasingly reliant on the months of July and August, needing to make the majority of their catch then. While fishermen in other regions are catching large fish early in the season, they must make do with a smaller, less profitable catch.

According to Guðmundur, increasing numbers of fishermen from the Northeast are now simply forced to move to more productive fisheries because of the quota system, such as Breiðafjörður.

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