Jón Bjarnason, Iceland’s former Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, appointed a new chairman at the Marine Research Institute the day before he was sacked from the cabinet.
Jón told reporters yesterday that there were no special or unusual reasons for releasing the former chairman.
Media reports began circulating last Thursday that Jón Bjarnason was probably going to be replaced. The following day the rumours were confirmed and Jón handed over the ceremonial Keys to the Ministry of New Year’s Eve. One of his last acts was to change the leadership of the Marine Research Institute.
The former chairman, Friðrik Már Baldursson, was told on the 29th December that the Minister wanted him to resign his post. Friðrik has since told RÚV that the news came as a complete surprise and had no obvious cause.
He was given no reason for the decision other than that Jón Bjarnason wanted a new chairman at the Institute. Friðrik obliged on Friday and was replaced the same day. Jón told reporters there was no special reason for his decision and that he has generally been happy with the Institute’s work.
The new chairman is Erla Kristjánsdóttir. She is the CEO of the Sjávariðjan Rifi seafood company from Snæfellsnes and has sat on the board of the Association of Fish Processors. At a meeting in February 2010 she criticised the Marine Research Institute — saying that all indications were that the cod stock was doing well: that it was big and underexploited.
She went on to say at the meeting that the Marine Research Institute was a direct threat to the fishing industry and that its work methods were old fashioned, and its models for measuring stock size obsolete.
Every time an outgoing minister makes a bold move on his/her last day(s) there are always assumptions that they are moves of revenge, to make incoming ministers’ jobs more difficult. In this case, however, the incoming minister is Jón Bjarnason’s party leader Steingrímur J. Sigfússon. Jón Bjarnason remains a Left Green Movement MP.