THERE was far too much prejudice surrounding the debate on salmon farming, Iceland’s fisheries minister Kristján Þór Júlíusson, has said.
He was speaking before the start of a seminar in Reykjavik on agreeing new genetic risk assessments affecting farmed and wild salmon stocks – a forum which attracted more than 100 participants.
Iceland’s Marine Research Institute (MRI) issued the first risk assessments almost two years ago.
Following the MRI’s work, the minister has tabled a new parliamentary bill containing amendments to existing aquaculture legislation.
It was this legislation that came under the microscope at yesterday’s seminar, along with discussion over how future proposals should be developed.
Referring to the divide between salmon companies and fish farming opponents , the minister said he was trying to set up a dialogue so that those with differing views could talk sensibly together.
‘There is too much anger and tribulation in this debate,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Westfjords Foundation, which represents the coastal communities where most of the future growth is being planned, said it was important that the debate should focus on their region.
The foundation said: ‘Aquaculture is the industry that has grown the most in the Westfjords in recent years.
‘And it has brought clear and positive changes in rural development, particularly in the southern part.
‘More than 300 jobs have been created in the area that can be traced directly or indirectly to aquaculture, and which has also led to young family members returning home.’
The export value of farmed products was more than 14 billion kroner (£90 million) a year, with salmon now becoming more valuable than cod.