Iceland aims to protect smaller coastal communities

Iceland aims to protect smaller coastal communities

Iceland has vowed to protect its smaller, more remote coastal fishing communities as an increasing number of companies are choosing to carry out their operations at the bigger ports.

Fisheries Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson is to give these areas larger fish quotas in a regional development initiative aimed at make them more appealing. However, the quotas will be allocated to infrastructure processing related schemes rather than individual vessels as is normally the case.

The minister revealed that they have added 1,800 tonnes already, but plan to increase it by a further 1,100 tonnes. She noted that such a large number of people living in remote areas are heavily dependent on what is caught and the processing that comes with it.

A smaller number of Icelandic fishing communities have had cause for concern of late as one fishing company revealed it was to shut down its operations in three remote locations to focus on the on the bigger, more accessible regions.

When a vessel changes its base, the normal practice is for its quota to move with it. Some companies have offered jobs to people prepared to relocate, but the majority do not want to move. It is believed the government is concerned about the potential damaging impact on the small port towns as fishing firms up and leave.

The director of regional development, Aðalsteinn Þórsteinsson, said there are less employment opportunities in remote areas as a result of the transferable quota system, which has serious consequences. He added that he hoped the new initiative can stop the decline.