The government is considering taxing the export of unprocessed fish with the goal of encouraging local fish processing in Iceland to create new jobs. Parties within the fishing industry oppose the idea.
Fishing in Iceland. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
The government agreement, which was presented on Sunday, states that a “moderate” taxation on fish export may be introduced, without further explanation, and also that the unprocessed fish catch may be redirected to the domestic market, Fréttabladid reports.
Minister of Fisheries Jón Bjarnason said it is obvious that more jobs have to be created and that every possible measure has to be considered in that regard. However, the matter is only being considered, the minister stressed, saying “This is a policy declaration and not a decision.”
Saevar Gunnarsson, chairman of the National Association of Fishermen, said the association is absolutely against the idea of controlling where the fish catch goes, explaining that limiting the sale of fish in foreign markets can only mean salary cuts for fishermen.
Fridrik J. Arngrímsson, managing director of the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners (LÍÚ), said he doubted such taxation will ever be introduced, reminding that fresh fish markets in Europe are valuable. “These markets have been fortunate for us especially in difficult times.”
The interim government presented an action plan on job creation in early March, assuming that at least 300 jobs could be created in one year in fish processing if a quarter of the 60,000 tons of fish that is exported annually were processed in Iceland.