Breaking: Icelandic government in shock halt to all new permits for salmon farming

Editorial staff

The total value of Icelandic farmed salmon has increased thirtyfold in eight years. 

The government of Iceland has decided to temporarily suspended new salmon farming permits, local news service RÚV reported on Tuesday.

The decision comes in the wake of a report published in February by the Icelandic National Audit Office, which found an industry that had been allowed to spread largely unsupervised.

From a modest 8,300 tons of exported farmed fish in 2014, the country has witnessed a surge in exports, with the latest 2022 figures indicating a shipment of over 51,000 tonnes.

While the value of these exports accounted for ISK 1.4 billion ($10.3 million) in 2014, by 2022, this soared to ISK 40.5 billion ($298 million).

Read more: Farmed salmon caught in rivers across northwest Iceland following escape last month

“It is quite clear that the regulatory framework around this is a patchwork, is unclear, ineffective, and so on,” Minister of Food, Fisheries and Agriculture Svandís Svavarsdóttir said at the time. “We’ve been chasing an industry that has grown very quickly.”

Recent concerns have centred around the issue of farmed fish escaping pens and hybridising with native fish. Conservationists fear these escaped fish introduce parasites and compete for food with local species. MAST, the Icelandic authority, has documented 16 such escape incidents, including a recent case where 3,500 fish went missing in Patreksfjörður.


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