Iceland denies reports of halt to new salmon farming licenses

Editorial staff

Growth of the salmon farming industry in Iceland is not currently dependent on new sites.

On Tuesday last week, Icelandic broadcaster RUV reported on the temporary suspension of new salmon farming permits.

The article in question referred to a statement from the Ministry of Food, Fisheries and Agriculture, originally reported in March.

SalmonBusiness has since been contacted by a spokesperson from the Icelandic Aquaculture Association to offer a clarification of the government’s stance.

As of the current date, all existing fish farming licenses in Iceland have been granted based on applications submitted in 2019 or before, according to the spokesperson.

Current annual production stands at around 50,000 metric tons, while the existing granted licenses permit a total biomass of close to 100,000 tons.

This indicates that there is substantial room for expansion within the scope of the currently issued licenses, so growth is currently not dependent on new sites.

In 2019, an amendment was introduced to the fish farming act, which stipulated that new licenses should be auctioned for fjords where carrying capacity and risk assessments have already been conducted.

However, it is crucial to note that applications meeting the criteria and submitted before these amendments are not subject to the new legislation.

To date, no new licenses have been issued under the amended legislation. The primary reason for this is that license applications submitted prior to 2019 are still under review by the relevant authorities, according to the spokesperson.

These applications already exceed the current limits set by the carrying capacity and risk assessments. Consequently, any future growth in licenses depends on potential changes to these assessments or the opening of new areas for bidding.

However, in March of this year, the Ministry of Food, Fisheries, and Agriculture released a statement indicating that while work was underway to develop a new aquaculture policy, a decision had been made to postpone potential new auctions for additional fish farming areas.

The first policy draft is set to be presented in the government’s consultation portal at the end of this September and in a bill at next year’s Spring Assembly at Parliament.

Importantly, the statement explicitly noted that all pending applications would continue to be processed despite the ongoing policy revisions (i. „en fyrirliggjandi umsóknir um önnur svæði verða hins vegar kláraðar þrátt fyrir að stefnumótun standi yfir”).

Consequently, all license applications are presently being processed by the relevant authorities.


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