All 31 employees of Rammi, the shrimp production company in Siglufjördur (pop. 1,400), northeast Iceland, were given leave yesterday. Rammi’s managing director Ólafur Marteinsson blames the situation on the cod quota cut.
“A 2,000-ton quota cut makes it impossible for us to continue. It has an impact on the total income of the company and we can’t operate entire divisions at a loss any longer,” Marteinsson told Morgunbladid.
The Minister of Fisheries’ Einar K. Gudfinnsson’s decision on an overall 60,000-ton cut in the cod quota for the next fishing season results in a 2,000-ton cut for Rammi. The company has been running at a loss of ISK 300 million (USD 5 million, EUR 3.6 million) for more than two years.
Other reasons cited by Rammi is the high exchange rate of the Icelandic króna, the collapse of shrimp fishing in Icelandic waters and a difficult situation in foreign markets. The EU apparently prefers shrimp from Canada.
Rammi still holds a large part of the shrimp fishing quota in Iceland. “We wanted to try and use that quota if [shrimp] fishing would have picked up,” Marteinsson said. “But fishing has been poor for a long time and the cut in the cod fishing quota only made it worse, so we just couldn’t go on, even though many jobs were on the line.”
Signý Jóhannesdóttir, the leader of the local labor union Vaka, said Rammi’s employees had been shocked after yesterday’s meeting in which they were told they would lose their jobs.
“Work has been irregular for a long time. There was no production at Rammi except for a few weeks from December until May, so this is something many had seen coming,” Jóhannesdóttir said. “But this is like losing a loved one you know is about to die. It always comes as a shock in the end.”
Click here to read more about the cod quota cut.