The cleaning operation of Kolgrafafjörður, West Iceland, cost the government ISK 33.6 million (EUR 205,000, USD 275,000). The thousands of tons (estimated at up to 50,000 tons) of herring and fish oil sludge were either buried on the beach next to the farm Eiði or moved to a landfill at Fíflholt at Mýrar, as recently revealed in a reply from the Ministry of the Environment to ruv.is.
Photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.
Before the cleaning began, the government had spent ISK 6 million on the surveillance of the fjord. Therefore, the expense for the state treasury amounts to a total of ISK 39.6 million.
The surveillance was intended to focus on the sludge and bad smell caused by the decaying fish, the condition of the fjord and the impact on birdlife; it was feared that the pollution would jeopardize the sea eagle stock.
In the response from the ministry, it is furthermore explained that Kolgrafafjörður was again put under surveillance last autumn, in order to monitor the herring traffic and the amount of oxygen in the sea at the fjord’s innermost part. Furthermore, the Environment Agency of Iceland has prepared a contingency plan should a new case of herring death occur. Attempts are being made to minimize the risk of that happening.
Proposals and ideas regarding the herring’s deterrence from the innermost part of the fjord have been collected, in addition to other preventive actions. The proposals are now being developed and are undergoing cost analysis.
Iceland’s Minister for Fisheries Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson has proposed a bill at Alþingi, Iceland’s Parliament, in which he suggests a law amendment regarding a research fund dedicated to the herring stock. The goal of the bill is to fund research of the extraordinary Kolgrafafjörður herring deaths.
In the bill it is also stated that direct total cost of the Marine Research Institute due to said herring death is ISK 34 million. It is presumed that the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources cover a part of that cost, ISK 3 million. The rest, ISK 31 million, would be funded by the herring research fund.
According to current law, only ISK 13 million may be paid from the fund per year and therefore an amendment must be made in order to increase the amount. The bill proposed by the Minister of Fisheries requests that authorization will be given for a higher payment for one year only; the year 2013.