TALKS to find a solution to the Iceland fishermen’s strike failed to find a solution at the weekend. Little progress was made and so far there are no plans to convene another meeting.
The lack of progress is certain to disappoint European fish buyers and UK markets such as Grimsby which depend heavily on Icelandic cod and haddock.
The stoppage is now almost seven weeks old and has become one of the longest of its kind in the history of the fishing industry.
The state mediator, Bryndís Hlöðversdóttir (pictured), has urged both sides not to speak publicly about the state of negotiations as they were at a sensitive stage and highly complex.
Observers believe it may still be some weeks before a settlement is reached.
The fishermen are demanding a larger share of the value of the catch, along with free food and protective clothing, which the trawler companies say would cost them more than four billion kroners, or 30 million euros, a year.
Meanwhile, Iceland’s prime minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, has again said the government was not planning to order the fishermen back to work or introduce any new legislation.
He told the newspaper Morgunbladid: ‘We are not discussing any kind of intervention in this trade dispute.
‘We would emphasise that it is up to the parties involved to reach an agreement, but we are monitoring the situation and we are aware of the impact the strike could have on society.’
As the strike continues to bite into the economy – some estimates put the damage at up to a billion Icelandic kroners a day – the government has come under pressure to take some action. Its reluctance to intervene has also brought criticism from Iceland’s fishing vessel owners.
Furthermore, the treasury will also be losing valuable tax revenues, which are much more important to a small country like Iceland which only has a population of around 330,000.