View Full Version : Controversial fish reform bill laid before Iceland Parliament

Davie Tait
4th February 2013, 16:53
http://www.fishupdate.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/18948/Controversial_fish_reform_bill_laid_before_Iceland _Parliament.html

ICELAND'S long awaited and controversial bill to reform the country's fish quota system has been put before the Reykjavik Parliament in a move which looks like the semi-nationalisation of the fishing industry.

Under the proposals fishing companies will only be granted quota rights for up to 20 years with the state having a say in who gets what. The proposed system is loosely similar to the rail franchise operation in the United Kingdom where train operating companies are allowed a limited period to run services before having to re-bid. Icelandic trawler owners say 20 years is not long enough and will prevent investment in new vessels.

Following a series of revisions, the Bill was presented to the Althingi, Iceland's parliament on Saturday by the Industries and Innovation Minister Steingrímur J. Sigfússon. The entire issue has caused widespread and sometimes bitter political and public debate within the country over the past two years, with an intense rearguard action fought by LIU, the Icelandic Fishing Vessel owners Federation.

The vessel owners argue that the bill will undermine the industry, pointing out that the state is taking over the quota leasing arrangement, something they know very little about. Some political who ally themselves with fishing says the proposals give the Government far too much control over an industry which has proved to be one of the most efficient in Europe or Scandinavia. It also helped the country back on the road to recovery following the banking crash of 2008.

It is easy see why this left leaning Government wants to get its hands on catching industry - and it is money. The new system is expected to bring in up to 2.7 billion Icelandic kroners - or about £12-million sterling a year. The Government says 40 per cent of this take will be invested on coastal fishing and rural areas which are suffering economically. The rest goes straight into government coffers.

The quota system will be divided into two sections, one of the large trawler and the other for line fishing vessels and inshore boats. Although the bill is now before parliament, some political analysts in Iceland believe there may not be enough time to get it full approved before the next general election in April. Much depends on the make-up of any new government but it is expected there will still be strong political demand for change.