A NEW attempt will be made to try to settle the Icelandic fishermen’s strike this week. But there are signs that both sides may be digging in for a long haul, which is already impacting on the UK processing sector.
The vessel owners will want a settlement because this is a key earning time for the industry with demand for fish high and prices usually strong. Preliminary talks took place before Christmas and further talks are scheduled for today.
The effects are already being felt closer to the source of the dispute with Iceland Magazine reporting that seafood restaurants in Reykjavík fear running out of fresh fish.
Inshore fishermen, who are not involved and who would have been in for the Christmas holiday, have been unable to head to sea due to the winter storms which have hit the region over the past week.
But the strike involving larger trawlers, which began on December 14, has made the shortage of fresh fish more acute. A local restaurateur told the magazine he will close his restaurant rather than use frozen fish.
The impact on large UK markets such as Grimsby has yet to be assessed, but if the stoppage goes on for any length of time the processors will be looking for other sources, such as Norway, if they have not started to do so already.
Grimsby had just 490 boxes when the market opened after the festive break yesterday and most of that was from Norway or overland.
Over in Reykjavik, Jón Mýrdal, who operates the downtown restaurant Messinn, told the newspaper Fréttablaðið that he has been forced to appeal to fishermen he knows on Facebook to sell him fish.
‘We are doomed if we can’t get fish,’ he said, adding he would rather close the restaurant than use frozen fish.
He said he hoped the matter would improve so boats could leave for the fishing grounds.
‘The fishermen deserve a decent wage, they certainly deserve it.’