Samherji, a major Icelandic fishing company, secured a hefty fishing quota off the coast of Namibia, but is also engaged in illegal fishing elsewhere near Africa.
DV reports that Samherji bought a quota of 30,000 tonnes of mackerel off the coast of Namibia last February. The company already does a great deal of fishing off the African coast, with little to no supervision as to what impact this has on fish stocks. In addition, larger Icelandic companies buying smaller fishing quotas in Iceland has forced some small towns here to lose numerous jobs – a business practice despised in Iceland – and yet an Icelandic company has no qualms with essentially conducting the same kind of business in Africa.
Samherji has a base of operations in the Canary Islands, called Katla Seafood. Most of the fishing they engage in takes place off the coasts of Morocco, Mauritania and Western Sahara. What makes the Western Saharan fishing particularly shocking is it happens to be illegal.
Western Sahara is officially classified by the United Nations as a “non-self-governing territory”, and the exploitation of its resources violates international law. In fact, the European Parliament’s Legal Service declared last year that fishing in Western Saharan waters was illegal.
Samherji director Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, in speaking with Fréttablaðið, said that while the area is “disputed”, Iceland is not the only country fishing there.