Kristján Þór Júlíusson, minister of fisheries and agriculture, presented a bill to parliament yesterday concerning fishing fees, RÚV reports. The main goal of the bill is to make the calculation, regulation and collection of fishing fees simpler and more effective. According to Kristján Þór, the new method of calculating the fees yields similar results over a decade as the current law. Fishing fees have been a controversial issue for years and the reception of the bill has been mixed.
“The bill is not intended to raise or lower the fishing fees,” Kristján stated at a press conference yesterday. He wants to make the laws clearer and base the calculations of the fees on newer data. Currently, the fees are based on two-year-old data but if the bill passes, they will be calculated from the previous year’s numbers. Kristján claims that he could explain the new calculation methods in ten minutes, but it would take him days to explain the old ones.
According to the bill, the calculation and administration of the fishing fees will be moved to the Directorate of Internal Revenue and the fishing fee committee will be dissolved. Fishing fees will also only cover fishing, not processing of the catch. Investment in the industry will also lower the fees since they’re considered in the common interest of the industry and the state.
Response to the bill has been mixed, as is to be expected with such a controversial matter. Heiðrún Lind Marteinsdóttir, CEO of Fisheries Iceland, is disappointed with the bill. According to her, the bill has its advantages but the fees are still too high. Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, member of parliament and former minister of fisheries criticized the bill because there’s no mention of using the fishing fees for strengthening infrastructure in fishing towns around the country. Another member of parliament, Oddný G. Harðardóttir claimed that the bill was not simpler than the current laws, even though that was the stated intent, and that with the new system, fees would in effect be lowered. Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson considered the bill an improvement on the current system but was disappointed that no adjustments were made for small and medium-sized fishing companies.