One of Iceland’s disgruntled small boat fishermen dumped a stack of cod heads and a placard at the doors of the country’s Parliament building to highlight dissatisfaction with how the sector’s fisheries are run.
This is directly linked to widespread resentment at the decision by Minister of Fisheries Svandís Svavarsdóttir to reject an appeal by the coastal fishermen for a relatively modest increase in the quota available to them.
Those boats fishing under the coastal management regime work on a quota for that fleet sector as a whole, and when it’s finished, those boats are no longer able to work. This year’s fishery is about to close, and the Minister has been on the receiving end of widespread opprobrium for not adding the requested 4000 tonnes to the coastal quota that would have kept the small boats fishing into August.
The fishermen who carried out the dirty protest outside Parliament has been contact by police and can expect a fine, but no further action is expected to be taken.
In his message he claims that ending the fishery early costs 700 jobs, and demands to know whether the government takes environmental issues seriously – stating that coastal fisheries have 500 times lower emissions that trawler fisheries. This presumably refers to the since resoundingly debunked claim that bottom trawling releases as much carbon into the atmosphere as airline travel – quoted as such in the Icelandic media.
The anger and frustration of the coastal fishermen isn’t going away, having had not much more than a few weeks at sea this year. The coastal fishery system instituted by a previous government, has evolved in a positive direction over the dozen or so years it has been in existence, and notably provides a shot in the arm for communities around the country that saw much of their fishing activity systematically disappear as transferable quotas resulted in fishing rights going to larger operators.
Another protest – this time a more family-friendly affair – is expected to take place on Saturday outside the Parliament building.
Fishermen are asked to attend, wearing distinctive oilskins, with a march starting at midday from the Harpa concert hall through the city centre to Austurvöllur Square in front of the Parliament building. The gathering is expected to last through the afternoon, with music and speakers taking part, and a photo opportunity to finish up.