The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) has authorized a large increase in fish farming in Patreksfjörður and Tálknafjörður, in the West Fjords, RÚV reports. The increase allows fish producers to farm up to 17,500 tonnes of salmon, a drastic increase from the previous 3,000 tonnes.
Fjarðalax, owned by Arnarlax, has been licensed to produce 10,700 tonnes of lax in the two fjords, while Arctic Sea Farm has been licensed to produce 6,800 tonnes, while farming areas have been expanded.
The two companies applied for the license together, and its environmental impact was assessed last year. Previously, MAST had only granted one producer a license to farm fish in the area. The Icelandic National Planning Agency pointed out that increased fish farming in the area comes with increased risk of accidents, and imposed new conditions on the licenses to minimize potential negative impact on wild salmon and aquatic life.
As with licenses granted in the past, the producers must monitor the emissions of pollutants from the farms and assess the environmental impact of their operations, as well as provide a strategy for preventing fish from escaping enclosures and recovering them if such cases occur.
Arctic Sea Farm’s license is valid for four years, while that of Fjarðalax is valid until 2027. Arctic Sea Farm’s production license in nearby Dýrafjörður has also been increased, doubling from 2,000 to 4,000 tonnes.
Director of Arctic Sea Farm Sigurður Pétursson says the increase in fish farming could triple the number of jobs in the industry. “In fact, it has often been discussed that in order to have an acceptable and profitable farm one has to exceed 10,000 tonnes,” he added.