The Icelandic minister for the environment and natural resources considers it urgent to review access controls for tourists to the remote Hornstrandir nature reserve in the West fjords, now that cruise ships have begun docking there. Passengers of the French cruise vessel Le Boreal, who entered the Hornstrandir area on Saturday, were not permitted to do so. It remains unclear exactly what consequences await the captain of the ship for docking in the area without undergoing a customs check, RÚV reports.
“We just have to ensure that all routes in terms of the Coast Guard and customs inspection are respected and that it is made clear to everyone which rules and regulations apply, as well as what happens if people do not follow them,” said Björt Ólafsdóttir, minister for the environment and natural resources.
The Hornstrandir area is considered one of Iceland’s most remote and does not necessarily provide easy access, especially for large cruising vessels. The ship anchored at Veiðileysufjörður fjord and its passengers were then taken ashore on small rubber boats. “To date, accessibility has been a little limited because it's hard to get there, but then, when a whole cruise ship is doing it with rubber boats, it's a bit different. Then we don’t need to examine entry barriers, but rather, entry controls,” Björt added. Finally, Björt emphasized the urgent necessity of drawing up a new management and protection plan for the protected area at Hornstrandir.
An Icelandic representative of the ship, responsible for acquiring all necessary permits, told RÚV (http://ruv.is/frett/segist-axla-fulla-abyrgd-a-atvikinu) that it was all a misunderstanding; the intention had never been for the ship to dock, but rather, only take a sightseeing tour along the coast. The representative has since taken full responsibility for the incident.