Top US economist urges Reykjavik not to change fishing quota system

A leading American economist and journalist has urged the Icelandic government not to move forward with proposed changes to its fish quota system.

Lawmakers in Reykjavik are currently working to reform the longstanding system in the effort of improving efficiency and increasing revenue. However, the move has been met with fierce resistance from the Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners’ Federation (LIU) and other fishing organisations.

Brian Carney, an editor from the Wall Street Journal, has backed the opposition by saying that changing the country’s quota structure could be economic “suicide”.

He wrote, “Iceland’s fishing-rights system has been so successful that, in its own way, it helped contribute to the country’s financial boom: The strength of its fishing industry helped the country earn the triple-A credit rating that in turn allowed its banks to set off on the unprecedented global expansion that ultimately ended in the 2008 bust. The fishermen themselves also poured their money into [bad] investments in the boom years, helping to stoke the Icelandic bubble,” the Fish Update reports.

He added, “Those banks are now shadows of their former selves, but the fishermen are still here. This is where the saga takes a dark turn, however. In the wake of the financial crisis, the government of the time was swept aside in favour of a left-wing coalition that has made it its mission to undermine the property-rights system that has served the country so well and has helped it recover from the crash. It has put forward legislation to restrict the buying and selling of quotas, and to allocate more of the catch rights politically.”

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