Dissatisfied with Quota System, Fishermen Change Residence to Adapt

fishing in Iceland

Coastal fishing quotas have left many fishermen in the Northeast of Iceland dissatisfied with their share of the catch. Now, many of them find themselves changing their legal residence to skirt what they see as an unfair system.

The fishing quota system in Iceland allocates a TAC (Total Allowable Catch) for each species of fish with separate regulations for large-scale commercial fishing, and small boat fishers, who are limited to the use of handlines. The Icelandic fishing quota is distributed on a regional basis, ideally ensuring that no one region is exhausted of its fisheries.

However, many small boat fishermen are saying that this is not the case, and that by the time the fish make it to the Northeast, the stock is exhausted.

Guðmundur Baldursson, a fisherman from the Northeast of Iceland, said in an interview with RÚV that Northeastern fishermen are increasingly reliant on the months of July and August, needing to make the majority of their catch then. While fishermen in other regions are catching large fish early in the season, they must make do with a smaller, less profitable catch.

According to Guðmundur, increasing numbers of fishermen from the Northeast are now simply forced to move to more productive fisheries because of the quota system, such as Breiðafjörður.

Verbúðin Wins Big at Göteborg Film Festival

Icelandic TV series Verbúðin (English title: Blackport) won the 2022 Nordisk Film & TV Fond Prize at the Göteborg Film Festival this week, RÚV reports. The award is given for “outstanding writing of a Nordic drama series” and is accompanied by a prize of NOK 200,000 [ISK 2.85 million; $22,824]. This year’s nominees included Countrymen (Norway; written by Izer Aliu, Anne Bjørnstad), Transport (Finland; written by Auli Mantila), The Shift (Denmark; written by Lone Scherfig), and Vi i villa (Sweden; written by Tove Eriksen Hillblom).

Set in the Westfjords in the 1980s, the story follows a married couple, Harpa and Grimur, as they build a small fishing empire along with their childhood friends. But with the introduction of a new quota system in the country, where the fishing grounds are privatised, the struggle for power results in a feud of jealousy, greed and betrayal.

Hailed as the buzziest TV series to come out of Iceland since Trapped, Verbúðin has indeed already garnered a great deal of international interest, despite the fact that it has not yet been widely broadcast for the international public. Vesturport produced the show for RÚV in Iceland and Arte France, and has production backing from the UK’s Turbine Studios, the Nordic 12 TV Alliance and the Nordisk Film & TV Fond. Prior to its success at Göteborg, it won the Series Mania Award at the Berlinale Co-Pro Series pitching event in 2018 and was also a hit at the Spanish Serielizados TV festival last fall.

Verbúðin has also been extremely popular with audiences at home—80% audience approval according to some figures. But the positive foreign reception of this particularly Icelandic story has been particularly surprising for the creators, says Mikael Torfason, who co-wrote the script with two members of the Vesturport theatre and film company who also star in the series: Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir (The Vallhalla Murders, Trapped), Björn Hlynur Haraldsson (Trapped, The Witcher), and Gísli Örn Garðarsson (Ragnarok, Prisoners). “This is maybe not something you’d expect. The most popular material has usually been crime dramas.”

 

 

Capelin Catch Quotas Raised Three Times

overfishing iceland

Iceland’s Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) has raised its capelin catch quota for the 2020-2021 season, advising that catch should not exceed 61,000 tonnes. MFRI originally issued a catch limit of 21,800 tonnes in December, then raising it to 54,200 tonnes on January 22. The quota was raised a third time on January 24, to 61,000 tonnes, after a mistake in the calculations of capelin stock sizes was discovered. Fishing and processing of capelin is a key pillar of industry in many small communities across Iceland.

Iceland’s capelin stock was assessed to be in decline over the last two years, a development experts have linked to rising ocean temperatures. No capelin quota was given out in 2019 after stocks were found to be too low. In South Iceland’s Westman Islands, that decision that impacted 350 employees directly and led to a loss of wages of at least ISK 1 billion ($7.9m/€7.25m). Several other communities in Iceland rely on capelin: in East Iceland, the municipality of Fjarðarbyggð received and processed 47% of Iceland’s capelin catch in 2018.

The results of one expedition in December and two in January have given an estimate that mature capelin (those capable of spawning) will exceed 150,000 tonnes in March 2021, taking into account predation. Together, the measurements reduce uncertainty in stock assessments, leading to the MFRI’s current catch quota of 61,000 tonnes.