New offer to suspend Arctic fishing licenses rejected

Icelandic authorities have rejected a new request to suspend Arctic Fish’s operating license at two sites in the Westfjords.

Demand came from sport fishing organizations in the region, including the National Associations of Hunting Associations. The lawsuit related to Arctic Fish’s operations in Tálknafjörður and Patreksfjörður, where the company (also operating under the name Arctic Sea Farms) has licenses to farm 7,800 tons of salmon.

The Icelandic food authority MAST announced the renewal of the licenses a few weeks ago, but sports and nature conservation associations protested against this. These appeals have since been rejected.

MAST renewed the licenses in March and they are valid until March 2040.

The associations also demanded that construction work in the area be stopped, which was also rejected.

The lawsuit was brought on several grounds, including that the operating permits violated a number of requirements and that the location of the farm sites posed a new shipping risk.

However, it was felt that the improvements Arctic Fish had made to its practices were sufficient to issue renewed operating licenses.

Arctic Fish, which is majority owned by Norwegian giant Mowi, has been battling attempts to close or limit operations since last summer when there was a major fish outbreak at one of its sites in the Westfjords. The company later apologized

Local police have been ordered to conduct an investigation. That order was later suspended, but prosecutors have suggested an investigation may still be necessary.

Arctic Fish has had operating licenses in the two territories since 2017 and is also a significant local employer, although this was not believed to be relevant to the decision.