From Iceland — Just Under 50,000 Sign Fishing Quota Petition

Just Under 50,000 Sign Fishing Quota Petition

Published June 5, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
DV / Sigtryggur Ari

A petition calling for major fishing quota laws to be put up for referendum continues to grow, having now nearly reached 50,000 unique signatures at the time of this writing.

The petition, Þjóðareign (“National Resource”), is now amongst largest petition in Iceland’s history, Kjarninn reports. The largest – Hjartað í Vatnsmýrinni (The Heart of Vatnsmýri) – sought to keep the domestic airport in Reykjavík, and reached some 70,000 signatures.

Þjóðareign is directed at President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, imploring the following:

“We, the undersigned, call on the President of Iceland to refer to a referendum any laws that parliament adopts where fishing resources are allocated for more than one year, while no provision for public ownership of resources has been set in the Constitution and the people have not be guaranteed full charge for their use.”

At the time of this writing, 49,914 people have signed the petition, which comes in the wake of a controversial mackerel bill, that has been criticised for personally benefiting the families of those crafting the legislation. In addition, the quota established would be set for the next six years.

According to Icelandic law, once parliament passes legislation, only the president’s signature will make it a law. If the president refuses to sign it, it is referred to public referendum, unless parliament opts to simply withdraw the legislation altogether.

Ólafur Ragnar has referred legislation to referendum before – in particular, the wildly unpopular Icesave legislation, which ended up defeated in the ensuing referendum. However, in 2013, a petition of some 35,000 signatures calling on the president to refuse to sign a law that lowered taxes for fishing corporations went ignored, with the president telling reporters at the time that “tax issues should not be a matter of public referendum”.

Bear in mind, though, that the year previous, the president said that “few topics were better suited for a public referendum” than the quota system.

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