Icelandic Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir neither plans to intervene in the wage dispute of fishermen and fisheries with provisional legislation nor by changing the tax law, she told RÚV radio this morning. In her view, the disputing parties have been asked to be in charge of the nation’s natural resource and must, therefore be responsible for finding a solution.
She stated she was against specific action, as some have suggested, such as subsidizing fishermen’s pay for the ship owners.
On the other hand, she is open to taking broad action by supporting municipalities hurt by the strike, which has been in effect for about nine weeks. “The municipalities which have built up responsible fish farming are not as hurt by this fishermen’s strike as others. We’re seeing difficulties in certain municipalities on Snæfellsnes peninsula, in the north and east, and I believe supporting those communities would be approaching things in a general way.”
Þorgerður Katrín called the situation very serious. “Of course it is serious if two disputing parties, whom we, the nation and state, have put in charge of the natural resource. They have the right to use the resource, in fact an exclusive right to the resource, and then people simply have to take responsibility and shoulder the responsibility to find a solution.”
She described the fisheries system as basically good, but she wants to auction the fishing quota. “I believe the fisheries simply have to pay more for the resource,” she remarked and added, “My opinion is definitely that we should seek a solution through auction. This is the best way in the sense that then the market would determine what the fisheries will pay, and when things go badly, then they pay less and when they go better, they take more part in building up the infrastructure of society.”