Body Discovered Near Borgarnes, Investigation Underway

police station Hlemmur

A body was discovered on a beach not far from the town of Borgarnes, in West Iceland, yesterday, Vísir reports. The police will update the media as soon as more information is available.

An investigation underway

Yesterday evening, a passerby reported the discovery of a body to the police. According to the police authorities, the case is under investigation.

“We are looking into this discovery and awaiting results. When more information is available, we will begin by speaking to relatives,” Ásmundur Kristinn Ásmundsson, Assistant Chief of Police in West Iceland told Vísir.

Ásmundur stated that it was necessary to follow all legal procedures and to attain conclusive results regarding the person’s identity. The police will update the media as soon as the results of the investigation are available.

Emaciated Horses Spur Review of MAST’s Supervisory Role

Horse in Iceland

The National Audit Office will launch an assessment of the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority’s (MAST) monitoring of animal welfare, RÚV reports. The decision follows, among other things, reports that the desperate condition of roughly twenty horses in Borgarnes had been reported to MAST without any immediate action being taken.

In desperate condition

On Wednesday, news broke that nearly twenty emaciated horses had been kept inside for the entire summer in a stable in Borgarnes. The condition of the horses was described as “desperate.”

Speaking to RÚV on Wednesday, Steinunn Árnadóttir – who also keeps horses in the area – maintained that concerned parties had filed multiple complaints with the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST), but no action had been taken.

“They’re emaciated. They’re not allowed outside. They don’t see sunlight. They’ve been deprived of green grass. There’s a filly that I saw this spring, probably in May, that’s been inside ever since.”

Following these reports, the horses’ owner – who did not respond to interview requests from RÚV or other outlets – removed the horses from the stables under cover of night. RÚV reported that the person in question, who also keeps sheep and cows in other places in Borgarnes, had exhibited threatening behaviour to other residents.

The Animal Welfare Association of Iceland subsequently released a public statement calling for MAST to take action: “This isn’t the first time that MAST has responded unsatisfactorily to well-reasoned claims of poor treatment of animals. MAST has the legal authority to respond to such complaints without delay … it is clear that a thorough review of the authority’s supervisory role needs to be conducted.”

An assessment is launched

This morning, RÚV reported that the National Audit Office was set to launch an official review of the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority’s monitoring of animal welfare. The result of the assessment will be published in a report to Parliament.

Guðmundur Björgvin Helgason, a comptroller with the National Audit Office, stated that now was an opportune time to assess MAST protocols, especially in light of the reports of emaciated horses in Borgarnes.

“We regularly review possible assessments,” Guðmundur remarked, stating that administrative profiling of MAST had been undertaken in 2013, which was the year that animal welfare supervision was moved from the Ministry for the Environment to MAST. “So we’ve never had a point of contact with these sets of issues within MAST until now.”

The National Audit Office’s decision to launch the assessment was, in part, spurred by a few recent instances in which MAST’s supervisory role was criticised. “Which is why we felt that it was an appropriate time to review their role. If we come across any issues with regard to MAST’s supervision, we hope to shed further light on them.”

A brief update

The above-mentioned Steinunn Árnadóttir, who keeps horses in Borgarnes, spoke again to Vísir today, stating that a mare and her filly were still being kept inside the aforementioned stable in Borgarnes, deprived of sunlight. According to Steinunn, the owner had been forced to put his horses, which were malnourished and in desperate conditions, to pasture, but for some reason, the mare and filly were still inside the stable.

Borgarvogur Inlet To Become Nature Reserve

Borgarvogur inlet by Borgarnes in West Iceland

The Environment Agency of Iceland, along with landowners and the Borgarbyggð municipality has introduced plans to make Borgarvogur, a narrow inlet by Borgarnes in West Iceland, a nature reserve.

Borgarvogur is one of West Iceland’s most important birdlife areas. The inlet and the surrounding wetlands and mudflats are essential for the surrounding area due to its plant and animal life. Over 20 bird species are found in the surrounding wetlands, mudflats, and bayland.

Borgarvogur inlet by Borgarnes in West Iceland
Guðrún Jónsdóttir

Borgarvogur consists of a wide expanse of mudflats, categorized as yellow algae mudflats, and is the largest known such area in Iceland. Yellow algae mudflats contain high densities of algae and other small living organisms but mudflats are also helpful in containing greenhouse gasses. The area’s research and educational value is high and the area is ideal for birdwatching.

By conserving the area, the Environmental Agency is looking to permanently protect the natural state of Borgarvogur and the biological diversity of the area so that it can develop naturally of its own accord. Also to ensure research and monitoring of the areas biosphere and so that the public can use the area to study nature. The suggested conservation area limits are shown on the map below.

Proposed Borgarvogur Nature Reserve Limits
Environmental Agency of Iceland.

The Environmental Agency’s notification is the first step in the conservation process and after the introductory period, representatives from the Environmental Agency, landowners, municipality and Ministry for the Environment and natural resources will draft conservation terms and present to parties of interest. the conservation will then be advertised and the public will be able to comment on the proposal.

Borgarbyggð Lavishes Newborns With Gifts

The Municipality of Borgarbyggð has decided that from now on every new child born in the area will be welcomed into the world with a so called “baby package”. The project is a collaboration between the municipality and businesses and organisations in Borgarbyggð, Skessuhorn reports.

“It’s a cause for celebration in every community when a new individual is born into this word. Every birth and every individual is a miracle unto himself,” says the municipality’s mayor Gunnlaugur A. Júlíusson.

Yesterday, the first baby package was delivered to parents in a ceremony at the health clinic in Borgarnes. A boy, born January 2, had just witnessed his first six week checkup with his parents, Ásrún Kolbeinsdóttir and Arnór Orri Einarsson. The package is the first of many yet to come for Borgarbyggð’s newest members.

The baby package itself is a bag filled with supplies meant to help the parents and child in the early stages of infancy, the bag is filled with groceries and supplies from the local pharmacy and even the knitting store. The bag is made, filled and delivered to the Borgarnes health clinic by members of a workplace for the disabled in Brákarey, where they also make artefacts to round out the bag.

“Hopefully this new initiative will make the good will of those who worked on the package known to the parents of newborns. If so our goal has been reached,” Gunnlaugur says.