Fish Processing Facility Closed, Dozens Laid Off

thorlakshofn iceland

A fish processing facility in the small southern town of Þorlákshöfn will be closed down. Vestmannaeyjar-based Ísfélagið, the oldest fishing operation in the country, will lay off their entire workforce in Þorlákshöfn this year, a total of 35 people, reports.

Blow to the community

In recent decades, several towns that rely on the fishing industry have seen facilities shut down or jobs moved away. Gestur Þór Kristjánsson, a councilman in Ölfus, the municipality Þorlákshöfn is a part of, said that the town is built around fishing and seafood processing and that Ísfélagið closing their facility is a blow to the community.

“We think it’s sad that a company like this is leaving the community,” he said. “This was one of the biggest fisheries operations in Þorlákshöfn.”

Hope for new jobs

Ísfélagið laid off 9 people in Þorlákshöfn earlier this year and the remaining 26 staff members learned on Wednesday that they should expect to be laid off. Most of them are residents of Þorlákshöfn. “I hope they get new jobs here,” said Gestur. “There is not a lot of unemployment here, so hopefully they can keep working here. They have worked here for a long time and have roots in the community.”

Director of Ísfélagið Stefán Friðriksson said that the foundation of their Þorlákshöfn processing disappeared after lobster fishing was stopped in 2021 in order to conserve the lobster population. Ísfélagið has operations remaining in Vestmannaeyjar in the south of Iceland, Siglufjörður in the north, and Þórshöfn in the northeast.

Brim’s Grandi Fish-Processing Plant to Close Temporarily Next Year

fish fishing haddock

Next year, the seafood company Brim will be closing its fish-processing plant in Norðurgarður – in Reykjavík’s Grandi neighbourhood – for a few months, RÚV reports. In order to install new processing belts to increase automation, the plant’s operations will be temporarily moved to Hafnarfjörður.

According to Guðmundur Kristjánsson, CEO of Brim, technological sophistication is, perhaps, the only way for Icelanders to remain globally competitive and to prevent fish-processing plants from moving overseas: “fish-processing plants abroad offer a premium for Icelandic fish, which is processed within the EU, in a more auspicious operational environment.” Kristjánsson adds that although the Grandi plant will employ fewer workers after opening again, their jobs will be more secure.

Brim has been involved in significant business dealings of late. It purchased the fish-processing company Kambur and the fishing company Grábrók, both of which are operated in Hafnarfjörður. The majority shareholder of Kambur and Grábók is a company owned by Hjálmar Þór Kristjánsson, Guðmundur Kristjánsson’s (Brim) brother. The acquisition means that Brim controls a quota that exceeds the fishing capacity ceiling. It has six months to rectify this surfeit.