Finding a solution to the Iceland fishermen’s strike failed at the weekend. Little progress was made and while fisherman have no protective clothing; There are no plans to convene another meeting by Government.
The lack of progress is certain to disappoint European fish buyers and UK markets such as Grimsby which depend heavily on Icelandic cod and haddock.
The stoppage is now almost seven weeks old and has become one of the longest of its kind in the history of the fishing industry.
The state mediator, Bryndís Hlöðversdóttir, has urged both sides not to speak publicly about the state of negotiations as they were at a sensitive stage and highly complex.
The fishermen are demanding a larger share of the value of the catch, along with free food and protective clothing, which the trawler companies say would cost them more than 30 million euros, a year.
This could easily be subsidised by the government, but Iceland’s prime minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, has again said the government was not planning to order the fishermen back to work or introduce any new legislation.
“We are not discussing any kind of intervention in this trade dispute.”
“we are aware of the impact the strike could have on society.”
This being said; it is now down to government to find a sustainable means to supplement the fishing industry by reducing their own profit in a measured way or face a unilateral fall in economic growth
A case study by the the institute of global resources in 2014 focused on fish as a renewable resource and the possibilities of policy to keep fishing within sustainability limits. The fisheries analysed are those of Iceland including all commercial stocks; the conclusion being:
The implementation of the policy mix in Iceland has achieved sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and enabled the fishing sector to become highly profitable. It has therefore been successful in meeting the objectives of the Fisheries Management Act to promote the conservation of exploitable marine stocks. Recent reports confirm that the implementation of similar schemes worldwide (‘catch shares’) could halt and even reverse a widespread fishery collapse and thus help drive economic growth. By contrast there have been social concerns throughout the development of the policy, and these remain. These relate to the initial allocation of quotas and the subsequent concentration of catch shares, with some parties arguing that this has been inequitable. There is disagreement over the importance of these concerns and the extent to which they are valid. Little research has been done, particularly in recent years, to analyse these issues. However, the fact that such debates and concerns persist suggests that the policy mix has not been as successful in this regard. Nevertheless, the objective of the social element of the Fisheries Management Act was to promote stock conservation and efficient utilisation “thereby ensuring stable employment and settlement throughout Iceland”. Incidentally, there is evidence to suggest that the policy mix has enabled fishing firms to remain stable while the rest of the Icelandic economy was in crisis (although there is a downward trend for employment in fisheries this is not due to low stocks or poor returns). In addition, there are indications that the policy mix has bolstered the economy of rural villages, thereby helping to slow or reverse the trend of outmigration from these villages to the capital city. It should therefore be considered that the policy mix has had mixed results in terms of social sustainability. However, it is unlikely that certain social concerns outweigh the environmental, economic and social benefits.