An online petition was launched on June 17th – Iceland’s Independence Day – protesting the new Progressive Party-led government’s decision to revoke the fishing fee, a levy charged to fishing quota owners for their right to fish.
The petition, created by Ísak Jónsson, urges the government to not pass the proposed bill revoking the fee and, should Althingi not oblige, promises to send the petition to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson requesting that he veto the bill and call for a public referendum on the matter. As fish are a natural resource they are considered public property and fair game for a referendum.
All those with an Icelandic kennitala are eligible to sign the petition. At the time of writing it has garnered 23,271 signatures.
The government’s proposed revocation of the fishing fee has drawn criticism from many, including an economics professor at New York’s Columbia University, representatives of the IMF, and MP’s of the opposition, each of whom disagree with the government’s claim that charging a fee to wealthy quota holders would stunt investment in the fishing sector. The opposition has questioned how the government could send the issue of alleviating household debt – the cornerstone of their campaign – to committee for lengthy deliberation, but could speed the revocation of the fishing fee through Althingi.
Fisheries and quota owners have been generous financial contributors to the Progressive Party and the Independence Party, both of which comprise the current coalition government.