The so-called ‘little fishing bill’ put forth by the Icelandic government was passed by Althingi yesterday with 30 votes for and 19 against.
The bill was subject to many changes during the committee readings and both fishing quota bills have proven controversial and politically divisive.
One of the bill’s most controversial articles was changed so that companies hunting pelagic fish will now pay less that originally planned. That change was passed 32-11.
The opposition parties in Althingi criticised the bill harshly from the outset, saying it was discriminatory and badly written. The leader of the Independence Party has stated that his party will oppose any changes the government wants to make to the quota system, whatever they may be.
The complicated fishing bills have proven unpopular because fishing companies feel the changes will cost them a lot more to buy the right to fish and that that in turn will reduce the amount they catch and hurt the national economy. The government’s stated aim is to bring more state control over fish stocks which are constitutionally the property of all in Iceland and not the property of fishing companies, who should have to pay to use them. Before the banking crash, some fishing companies used their quotas as collateral for loans.