Iceland Qualifies for Women’s Handball Euro

Stavanger, Norway

With a victory over the Faroe Islands Sunday, Iceland women’s national handball team has qualified for the 2024 European Women’s Handball Championship.

Iceland beat the Faroe Islands 24-20 with a big performance from Elín Klara Þorkelsdóttir, who scored 10 goals, RÚV reports. Goalkeeper Elín Jóna Þorsteinsdóttir blocked 16 shots, including three penalty shots.

Dominant performance

The Faroese team led for part of the first half, but Iceland took over the game, leading by four goals at half-time. Iceland’s defence was stellar, limiting Faroe Islands to 8 goals in the first half. Iceland held the lead for the entire second half.

At the end of the game, which took place at Ásvellir stadium in Hafnarfjörður, there was much celebration, as the Faroe Islands also secured qualification despite the loss.

Back in the big tournaments

The tournament will take place in Austria, Hungary and Switzerland in November and December this year and will feature 24 teams. Norway are the two time defending champions.

Iceland has appeared in the tournament twice before, in 2010 and 2012. The women’s national handball team also qualified for the World Championship last year, where the team beat Congo to finish in 25th place.

Faroe Islands Support Grindavík Residents

Faroe Islands

The Government of the Faroe Islands has donated 10 Million ISK [$73,000, €67,000] to support the displaced residents of Grindavík. The collection effort has been ongoing for over a week with the Red Cross and half the amount comes from Faroese residents, half from the Faroese government budget, RÚV reports.

The Faroe Islands, a self-governing archipelago country some 450 kilometres east of Iceland, has a population one-seventh the size of Iceland’s, but has a history of lending a helping hand during trying times in Iceland.

Government action expected in February

The January 14 eruption near Grindavík destroyed three houses, caused crevasses to form across town, and displaced the 3,800 inhabitants for the unforeseeable future. The town had already been evacuated once before, on November 10 last year, due to seismic activity.

The Icelandic Government has promised support for the Grindavík residents, which will be presented in a February bill in Alþingi, Iceland’s Parliament. Following a meeting of the cabinet yesterday, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir told RÚV that the plans were on track and that the idea of buying up residents’ houses was still being discussed. “This is what we’ve been working on the whole week, in dialogue with financial institutions, banks, and pension funds, estimating different proposals,” she said.

Faroese support through the years

The Grindavík donation is not the first time that the Faroese people have helped out Icelanders in need. Similar efforts were made during the 1973 eruption in Heimaey, the largest of the Vestmannaeyjar islands, which led to the temporary evacuation of its community. Likewise, Faroese donations came through when the Northwestern towns of Súðavík and Flateyri were hit by avalanches in 1995, causing the deaths of 34 people. Løgting, the Faroese Parliament, also came to Iceland’s assistance during the 2008 financial crisis, lending money when credit had dried up elsewhere.

The Icelandic Red Cross has set up a page with donation options for those wishing to lend support. This includes both one-time donations and repeat subscriptions.

Icelandic Horses Could Help Save their Faroese Cousins

Icelandic horses Berglind Jóhannsdóttir

The Faroe Islands’ unique horses are at risk of dying out. Their advocates are considering using Icelandic mares as surrogates in order to save the breed. RÚV reported first.

Faroese horses (also called Faroese ponies) share many similarities with their Icelandic relatives, though they are slightly smaller. Both breeds share the ambling gait known as the tölt and grow shaggy winter coats that they shed again in the spring. DNA analyses in 1978 and 2003 have established that the Faroese horse is indeed its own breed, and that the Icelandic horse is its closest relative.

Icelandic horses in Denmark could serve as surrogates

The biggest difference between the Icelandic and Faroese breeds may be their number: while there are 250,000 Icelandic horses all over the world (some 40% of them in Iceland), there are fewer than 100 purebred Faroese horses alive today, including only 25 fertile mares. In order to ensure the breed’s survival, Jóna Ólavsdóttir, the chair of the Faroese Horse Association (Felagið Føroysk Ross), says at least 3,000 horses are necessary.

Since the size of the Faroe Islands could not support such a large horse population, the association is calling on Faroese authorities to abolish the current export ban so that Faroese horses could be bred on the Danish mainland. One proposal that has been made entails transporting ten Icelandic horses from Denmark to the Faroes, where fertilised eggs from Faroese horses would be implanted in them. The Icelandic mares would then be transported back to Denmark, where their offspring would be the start of a population of Faroese horses outside of the Faroe Islands.

Anonymous donor has offered to pay for surrogacy

If the plan goes ahead, it wouldn’t be the first time Icelanders help the Faroe Islands to maintain their horse breed. In 2018, the Faroese Horse Association and the Icelandic Farmers Association (Bændasamtök Íslands) partnered to create a family tree and digital registration system for the Faroese horse breed, with information on origin, offspring, breeding, and more.

The surrogacy project has a projected cost of $220,000 [€200,000]. An anonymous donor has reportedly already offered to pay the cost if legislative changes make it possible.

First Summer Ferry Arrives in Seyðisfjörður

Seyðisfjörður Norræna ferry

The first summer ferry docked in the East Fjords town of Seyðisfjörður yesterday, RÚV reports. During its first visit of the summer, the ferry was carrying 750 passengers, 120 crew members, and 400 vehicles. This was the first of 11 planned journeys that the Norröna, operated by Faroese company Smyril Line, will make from Denmark to Seyðisfjörður this summer.

The Norröna, which departs from Hirtshals, Denmark and on certain journeys stops over in the Faroe Islands en route to Iceland, can accommodate up to 1,000 passengers. (It’s worth noting that the population of Seyðisfjörður is, by contrast, 673.) Based on previous years’ bookings, Germans make up the ferry’s largest group of passengers, followed by Danes, Faroese, Dutch, and French travellers.

The customs office in Seyðisfjörður said that nothing unusual occurred during yesterday’s inspection, although increased attention is being paid this year to whether a vehicle on the ferry is being brought into Iceland for personal use or business. If there is a business reason for the vehicle to be coming ashore, an additional fee must be paid.

Faroese Blue Whiting Gives Icelandic Fishing Industry a Boost

Drangey SK-2

Nearly all of Iceland’s pelagic trawlers are currently engaged in blue whiting fishing off the coast of the Faroe Islands, RÚV reports. Blue whiting fishing has been a real boon for the Icelandic fishing industry, following an unsuccessful capelin season.

According to information from the Directorate of Fisheries, almost 108,000 tons of blue whiting have been unloaded thus far this season. This total is expected to rise, as the catch taken in over Easter has not yet been added to it. It’s expected that the added catch will bring the catch total to 130,000 tons, which is half of Iceland’s blue whiting quota for the season. Several ships from other countries have also landed blue whiting around the Faroes in the last few weeks.

The blue whiting fishing season began at the start of April after Iceland came to an agreement with the Faroes about fishing in their coastal waters. There are eight Icelandic vessels fishing off of the southern Faroese coast right now and a handful of others are in the progress of unloading their catch or on their way back to Iceland now.

According to Bergur Einarsson, captain of the Hoffell from Fáskrúðsfjörður in the East Fjords, the blue whiting season is gaining steam, after a slow start. He said he was optimistic about the rest of the season and said it made a huge difference to be able to fish for blue whiting, since the capelin season was a failure. Many others in the fishing industry have seconded this, despite the fact that the blue whiting season never equals the capelin season.