The introduction of the quota system in Icelandic fisheries in the 1980s has resulted in consolidation in the fishing industry. Today the ten largest companies hold over 50 percent of the quota. Vísir, with its headquarters in Grindavík, a fishing village near Keflavík International Airport, became one of the largest fishing companies in 2005 when it merged with three other companies in the small fishing villages of Þingeyri in the West Fjords, Húsavík in the northeast, and Djúpivogur in the East Fjords.
Last week the company announced that it would move its entire fish processing production to Grindavík. This has resulted in a strong reaction from the fishing communities which will now see a large part of their quota leave along with about 50 jobs per village. To put things into perspective, Þingeyri has just 260 inhabitants, Djúpivogur 352 while Húsavík boasts a whopping 2,237 people.
Petur H. Pálsson, managing director of Vísir, told mbl.is there was a need for restructuring. The profits of the company are decreasing because of lower pricing along with growing costs in groundfish processing. The company also has to meet an increased market demand for fresh fish and flexible deliveries. Vísir has offered staff to move to Grindavík and is also assisting in creating alternative employment in Þingeyri, Húsavík and Djúpivogur. What form that will take remains to be seen.