Icelandic authorities have since long aimed at doubling the cod catch in Icelandic waters. Should they succeed the catch will match the total catch of all fishing vessels, Icelandic and non-Icelandic, as it was before the fishing limits were extended to some degree. In spite of this the catch has remained at the same level. The Icelanders' own catch is as large as it was. Nothing is added to it after the foreign vessels left the banks. This was only to be expected given the way the fishery control has been carried out, as the first advice by the fishery economist Rögnvaldur Hannesson has been ignored, cf. my article “Fishery control. Economic advice“. However, he is not the originator of this advice, the same point of view being valid at the Fisheries Training Programme (FTP) of the United Nations University (UNU) in Reykjavik, to give an example. This is applied biology, keeping the number of animals and plants in relation to the nourishment available.

            It is an old experience ever new that animals and vegetation show neglect if the number of animals and plants are larger than corresponds to the nourishment necessary for normal growth. It is worth mentioning that in many places in Iceland nowadays trees do not thrive because of their vast numbers. In older times, by hunger feeding, too many animals were kept in case winter and spring became hard. It is easy to double the growth in neglected woods by gauzing or the produce from underfed animals by reducing the size of the stock. The opposite is to increase the number of animals over the nourishment disposable. Every now and then one hears on the Icelandic Radio announcements forbidding fishing in one or more banks for a short or longer periode; that kind of practice can influence the fish stock in the same way as doubling the number of seed potatoes in relation to what experience shows gives the best result. The harvest consists mostly of small potatoes.

            The authorities' decisions regarding total cod catch are not based on sound reasoning as long as the cod does not enjoy conditions that are compatible with the fishery economist´s above mentioned advice on gauzing. Neither are there biological arguments to suppport the view that a large stock of spawners ensures a better survival of the cod stock than a small one. Notwithstanding biological remedies to double the stock and catch of cod it is as if the situation has reached an impasse for the authorities and that it will not be possible to change the fishery control so that the cod catch can reach the size it had when both Icelandic and foreign boats fished in Icelandic waters without official restrictions. This is due to the fact that the established total catch and its allotment as catch rights to the various companies as well as the permission to sell catch rights, gives security for fishing and processing and is a clue for an effective activity of the individual companies. Simultaneously, the total catch established is a criterion for those who want to get more contribution from the fishing industry to the government; there are different names on those arrangements such as tax on resources and auctioning of catch rights. As the establishing of total catch gives security for return in fishing and fish processing the fishing industry entrenches itself in an effort to defend the system. Conversely, those who want more for the national treasury in relation to  total catch established lose a means for their goal if it disappeared. Consequently, the opponents unite to preserve the establishing of total catch as a benefit for the nation.

            Although the establishment of total catch is not biologically supported and although referring to it possibly keeps the utilization of the fishing grounds in the half of what nature can give, the total catch established is a measurement which politics refer to, while using other means of fishery control would render the existing fronts in politics and organizations meaningless. It also belongs to the picture that in the establishment of total cod catch have those who want Iceland to be included in EU a means to make the inclusion more flexible, cf. my article “Ideas behind Iceland's Fishery Control“.

            By applying fund voting, following the game rules of that decision model, one can in a responsible way come to a conclusion regarding the various aspects of fishery control, such as fishing economic advice giving security for the fishing industry, and concerning state revenue from natural resources. Democracy Center, Reykjavik, made an attempt to apply fund voting among Icelandic MP's and parliament deputies to deal with a limited part of fishery control. Only a few participated. MP Petur Blondal, now deceased, a mathematician, renowned for his independent views, approved of the method. He said however that he couldn't participate in this fund voting where there were different alternatives to take position to, as his party group in the parliament had decided to adopt an unanimous standpoint. His party group did not differ from other groups in that aspect.


Morgunbladid 3rd September 2015