The campaign to prevent the fish-farming industry harming wild salmon in Iceland is on a knife edge as it awaits a parliamentary committee’s verdict on a new aquaculture bill.

Overseas salmon-fishers, who contribute greatly to Iceland’s tourist economy, are being urged to write now to MPs on the Althingi's Economic and Social Committee, explaining how open-pen salmon aquaculture is polluting and why Iceland should set a European precedent by rejecting salmon farming when the parliament reconvenes in August.

Regional government in British Columbia, Canada, recently banned open-pen salmon farming at sea to protect wild Pacific salmon. Open-pen salmon farming has also been banned in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.

The Iceland bill proposes to grant indefinite licences to farm fish in fjords. Campaigners say the proposed penalties for inevitable fish escapes, habitat degradation and sea-lice infestations are minimal.

A major fish escape from a farm off the West coast of Iceland last year caused public uproar. It is known that escaped farmed fish can breed with wild fish, reducing the wild progeny’s ability to survive, a process called genetic introgression.

In the aftermath of the escape, a survey revealed that 70% of Iceland’s population now oppose salmon farming, while more than 46,000 people signed a petition seeking to ban sea farms.

Campaigners in Iceland say that comments from international visitors to the Economic and Social committee are important. MPs need to know that the decision they make will “affect the entire North Atlantic, its wildlife and salmon population”.

To express your view, write to the committee members at or to the new fisheries minister Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir (

Find out more at the Patagonia campaign and North Atlantic Salmon Fund