Fishing allowances (measured in tons) have doubled in Iceland’s Westfjords since 2001, when it reached an all-time low, and are approaching quota levels from 1991, before quota could be bought and sold.
According to the Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners (LÍÚ), fishermen in the Westfjords could catch 54,000 tons of cod-equivalents (a unit referring to weight and relative value of different fish species on the market) in 1991, which was 15 percent of the total fishing quota in Iceland. Fréttabladid reports.
After 1991, when a new law on fishing quota trade was ratified, fishing companies could sell their quotas, so in 2001 the Westfjords only had a quota of 22,000 tons of cod-equivalents left, about eight percent of the total quota in Iceland.
“Then people realized they had to have permanent fishing allowances and they have been buying back the quota for the last few years,” said Björn Jónsson, who is in charge of distributing quota at LÍÚ.
Currently fishing companies in the Westfjords have a quota of 41,000 tons of cod equivalents, nearly twice as much as in 2001, and today the Westfjords’ fishing allowances are about 12 percent of the total quota in Iceland.
“Those who intend to stay in this industry will continue to buy, though it is hard to tell what will happen,” said Jónsson. He added that companies in Bolungarvík and Flateyri have been especially keen on buying quota.
Agnar Ebenesersson, the managing director of the fishing company Bakkavík hf. in Bolungarvík, told Fréttabladid he did not believe the Westfjords would reach the same quota levels from 1991.
“I rather think it will decrease again, the quota has become very expensive,” Ebenesersson said.
Small remote communities in Iceland are dependent on fishing quota for survival, as it is often the only industry in town.
Click here to read about the quota in Grímsey, Iceland’s northernmost inhabited island.
Click here to read about the Icelandic Fisheries Management Act, quota and cod-equivalents.