Iceland review - 2002, Blaðsíða 67

Iceland review - 2002, Blaðsíða 67
ICELAND REVIEW 65 I N T E R V I E W quotas for individual vessels. Its objective is to promote the conservation and efficient utilisation of marine resources to ensure sta- ble employment and settlement throughout the country. The main advantage of Icelandic fisheries management is its eco- nomic efficiency. Progressive enterprises have chosen to invest in harvest rights. Harvest rights have been transferred to those who exploit them most efficiently. Trading in quotas has encouraged speciali- sation in processing. This economic effi- ciency is extremely important for a nation so dependent on its fisheries.” Iceland was the first country to adopt a system based pri- marily on ITQs (individual transferable quotas), and the system has worked well in keeping the total catch within the deter- mined limits. As a result, the condition of fish stocks has improved and profitability in the fishing industry has increased as trading in quotas for different species has allowed firms to specialise and increase efficiency. “The quota system has served well in keeping the catch within previously deter- mined limits. The actual total catch is quite transparent since, with very minor excep- tions, all catches are landed in Iceland. Regarding individual fish stocks, the most important achievement in recent years has, without doubt, been the protection and strengthening of the cod stock, the most important of the Icelandic commercial stocks. This has been achieved using the precautionary approach to fisheries man- agement.” On the forefront internationally “Iceland is primarily a food-producing country and has, throughout its history, sought to be as self-sufficient in its domes- tic food provision as natural conditions have allowed. Iceland is still dependant, to an almost unparalleled extent, on fisheries for its livelihood. There is universal concern about overfishing and the state of fish stocks, and understandably so, in light of the importance of fisheries to world securi- ty. Fish is, after all, the prime source of ani- mal protein for some one billion people in the developing world.” Worldwide, the modern day expectations of the fisheries include not only sustainable utilisation of marine resources and the precautionary approach to fishing, but also responsible handling of the catch, quality assurance in processing, and safe and healthy products. “The Icelandic government and the fish- ing industry also call for responsibility in the fishing industry based on the premise that sustainable development in the fisheries is vital for the industry and the nation alike, not only in its biological sense, but also in economic terms.” Iceland has actively contributed to the framework of international law for fish- eries, as well as regional conservation and management. “Icelanders have made it a point of considerable emphasis to be in the forefront internationally, firstly with the efforts to extend fisheries jurisdiction and in promoting the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Following up on this, we aimed at promoting conservation and responsible exploitation of fish stocks and now, most recently, we have adopted the aim of responsible harvesting of marine resources. The dominant aspect here is not only to prevent over-exploitation, but to ensure balanced harvesting. Thus, some marine species should not be over-exploit- ed, while others are protected at the cost of those already subject to over-exploitation. Last October, the UN Fisheries and Agricultural Organisation, FAO, held, in co- operation with the Icelandic government and with support from the government of Norway, a very successful conference in Reykjavík on Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem. The conference’s clos- ing statement, known as the Reykjavík Declaration, outlined this policy in very clear terms.” Increasing value of seafood Recent health concerns about meat in Europe are likely to further increase the value of seafood. “Health issues are directly and indirectly linked to the increasing value of marine products. Fish is a very healthy food. At the same time, it is a delicate prod- uct, needing careful handling and easily damaged if not treated properly. Recently, dioxin, dioxin-like PCB and PCBs have been in focus. There is no way of reducing these substances in fish other than by sub- stantially reducing these emissions in the environment. We know that fish consump- tion is good for us and consumers must be informed of the positive aspects of fish con- sumption, which more than balance out the negative effects of dioxins and other con- taminating substances in almost all areas.” The Icelandic Seafood Exhibition, held this September, is extremely important to the industry. “The exhibition has been run- ning every three years since 1984 and has been a success with both exhibitors and vis- itors. More than 800 companies from 35 countries show their products, and the exhi- bition covers every aspect of the commer- cial fishing industry. In connection with the exhibition, the Ministry of Fisheries will be hosting a seminar on the utilisation of marine resources in the light of technical evolution in fisheries and fish processing. The seminar will take place on 6 September at the Smáraskóli school auditorium, right next to the exhibition area, and I would like to encourage all those attending the exhibi- tion to come to the seminar.” Anna Margrét Björnsson is a staff writer. “Rapid advances in Icelandic fisheries have been accompanied by the development of manufacturing and service industries that draw on a long history of experience in the practical needs of fishing and fish processing operations.” 61 IR302 - Iceland Businesbs-rm 2.9.2002 13:38 Page 65
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