Good and bad news for Icelandic fishermen

atlantic_cod“This is of course very positive news. This is the best news we’ve had in a long time,” says Fridrik J. Arngrimsson, managing director of LIU (The Federation of Icelandic Fishing Vessel Owners). His joy is closely related to the results of the newest Icelandic Marine Research Institute survey, which gives a brighter outlook for cod stocks than had been expected. reports that the cod stock is now higher than at any time since detailed surveys began in 1996; and a full 10 percent higher than in both 1998 and 2004.

Ideally LIU would like an increase in the cod fishing quota to take into account the new scientific information, and Minister of Fisheries Einar K. Gudfinnsson has been lobbied to that effect. It is not yet known what the minister will decide.

The Icelandic government is known for its cautiousness when setting fishing quotas and Icelandic fishing stocks are widely held to be in better condition than elsewhere in Europe and North America.

While the fishermen are now lobbying for a quota increase, even they favour a cautious approach: “This (new survey result) does not mean that the cod stock is as big as we would like to see it. We of course need to build it up further. This is an ongoing and continuous job,” Arngrimsson says.

The news comes barely a week after the discovery of an illness affecting both herring and haddock in Icelandic waters.

Up to half the herring catch may be infected with the parasite, and there has been some debate as to whether affected herring may be unsuitable for human consumption. The parasite often kills herring and is a periodic natural visitor to Icelandic waters.

Haddock are rarely killed by the parasite and remain fit for human consumption. The illness can be expected to pass again within two or three years.

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