Iceland is “the” Success Story of Sustainable Fishing
Iceland is a fishing country and has been forever. This small country of 310,000 people has relied on the sea and its major natural resource–the cod grounds–for its income.
Iceland has Fishing Limits
Since 1901 Iceland has had a sea limit around the island which marked off the zone that could be fished by Icelanders alone. It started as 3 miles and by 1976 the exclusive area had expanded to 200 miles. This was done to protect the diminishing fishing stock, particularly cod and haddock.
How Does the Quota System WorkOnce the zone was established, the amount of fish that each fisherman could catch had to be regulated as well. This was seen as the key to stopping the decline in the cod stocks. By 1995 a workable system of quotas was Once the zone was established, the amount of fish that each fisherman could estimated stock. Each vessel is allocated a certain share of the total allowable catch of the relevant species. Twice a year, in the autumn and spring, the scientists set the quotas after testing the biomass. They can close down fishing grounds if there is evidence that there are falling stocks. By 2010 Iceland will have its own marine stewardship label which will certify their responsible practices.
The Impact of Climate Change on the Fish
The temperature of the sea water has changed in the past 10 to 15 years and become warmer. Before there were haddock only on the SW coast of the country, now they are all over because they are a warm water fish.
If the size of the fish is too small the area is closed down. There are 40 people in the government who follow fish size. However the fish sizes are increasing and many feel that this is a result of the ocean regenerating as well as the food chain.
Throwing back fish that are not good enough or are dead is not allowed because then they are not counted as part of the quota. Instead they must be brought ashore and given to the government to sell as part of their quota. Iceland is in the unique position as the only country in the world that follows these strict standards.
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