Protests defeat plan to farm salmon in Iceland
North Atlantic Salmon Fund, 12 Feb 2014
The Iceland Westfjords company HG has announced a revisal of strategy. It appears to have abandoned or suspended its plan for a 7,000-tonne salmon farming operation following a protest campaign by the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF). The announcement has been made just two weeks after the first of a series of seminars on fish farming organized by NASF in cooperation with the University of Iceland, Institute of Sustainability Studies and the Icelandic Society of Biologists.
Iceland’s major salmon rivers lie on either side of the Westfjords, the projected location of the fish farm. River owners and sport fishers were convinced that the sea farming of salmon would result in pollution, parasites and that long-term damage to the genes of wild salmon caused by interbreeding with escapees from the farm might ruin the natural rivers. The small boat fishermen, the tourist industry and the association of coastal landowners all expressed their concern at the salmon farming plan.
Having failed to find enough support for salmon farming the HG company has switched its ideas to raising trout in sea cages in the same area. It announced draft plans for a large scale sea farming operation for rainbow trout, a species native to North America. This new scheme will need to undergo an environmental impact assessment by the Icelandic authorities.
The Irish Federation of Salmon & Sea Trout Anglers is fighting similar plans to farm salmon in Galway Bay. Its secretary, Mr. Noel Carr, said: “This is good news for Iceland’s wild salmon habitat and I am very glad that NASF has won this important battle. However, I am extremely concerned about the new proposals for rainbow trout. They are not natives of either the Irish or Icelandic environment.
“In Ireland we have already suffered too many bad experiences from major rainbow escapes. This type of fish farming has caused a great deal of damage from chemical contamination and habitat degradation to salmon rivers on the west coast of Ireland such as the Eany River in County Donegal and the Newport river in County Mayo “