The operational license of salmon farming companies Arctic Sea Farm and Fjarðarlax for a combined 17,500-ton sea pen farming in Patreksfjörður and Tálknafjörður has been revoked, RÚV reports. The license had been granted last Dec. 13 and was in addition to their operations in other parts of the Westfjords. The Iceland Nature Conservation Association, along with other conservation groups, had brought the charge against the license to the Environmental and Natural Resources Board of Appeal, because they consider it certain that the farmed salmon will spread into fishing rivers around the country, as recent experiences show, in addition to sea lice, diseases and feed pollution.
The companies in question have stated that they’re worried about the situation and request that the authorities step in. “It’s clear that salmon farming in Iceland won’t be developed further without the requisite permits.” The companies have already hired some of the staff that was to work on the Patreksfjörður and Tálknafjörður salmon farming for which the license has now been revoked.
The mayors of Vesturbyggð municipality and Tálknafjörður met with the chairmen of the government parties this weekend to discuss the severity of the issue. According to the mayor of Vesturbyggð, revoking the permits will have consequences for 3-400 people in the area. “This will affect many jobs and many families and it’s intolerable that the government can’t set clear rules for companies to follow.” The two municipalities have just under 1,300 inhabitants combined and they claim around 165 of them work for the salmon farming companies in the area, as well as a number of contractors and service companies. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, in a Facebook post, announced that the mayors were informed that the ministers of fisheries and the environment were figuring out ways to give the companies a fair amount of time to fix the flaws that caused their license to be revoked and that the matters would be handled competently.
Óttar Yngvason, the lawyer for the nature conservation groups that made the complaint, claims that the result of the case would be that plans for sea pen salmon farming in Patreksfjörður and Tálknafjörður are history. He also told RúV that he thinks the number of people working for the salmon farming companies has been greatly exaggerated and that it’s more likely that the number is around 30 people. He’s pleased with the verdict of the Environmental and Natural Resources Board of Appeal since it’s already become clear that smolt in Patreksfjörður sea pens is infected with kidney disease.