Claims against Arnarlax dismissed
The District Court of Reykjavik has dismissed the claims of Akurholt and Geiteyri, the owners of salmon fishing rights in the river Haffjarðará, against Arnarlax, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority and the Environment Agency of Iceland. The fishing right owners had demanded that the fish farming licenses of Arnarlax in Arnarfjörður would be annulled. Arnarlax, an Aquaculture Stewardship Certification – ASC certifiied company, is the largest farmer and producer of salmon in Iceland.
According to the District Court ruling, the object of the fishing right owner’s lawsuit was to make salmon fish farming at sea prohibited in Iceland. In that regard the District Court argued that for decades the legislature in Iceland had considered the inevitable impact on salmon fishing in fresh water and taken that into account when deciding whether and to what extent fish farming should be permitted, says Kristín Edwald, hrl., Supreme Court Attorney and Partner, LEX law firm, representing Arnarlax.
Moreover, the District Court referred to the fact that the environmental impact of Arnarlax’s operations in Arnarfjörður would be more or less local and, therefore, not affect the salmon fishing in Haffjarðará. In essence, the District Court held that the owners of the salmon fishing rights had not suffered any loss due to Arnarlax’s operations and that they had not proved that the operation would specifically harm their interests. Thus, they did not have any particular legitimate interest in pursuing their lawsuit, which is grounds for dismissal under Icelandic procedural law, says Kristín Edwald.
Arnarlax has since 2009 been through a comprehensive license application process with the Icelandic National Planning Agency (www.skipulag.is), Food and Veterinary Authorities (www.mast.is) and Environmental Agency of Iceland, Umhverfisstofnun (www.ust.is) where same interest groups have provided their comments and pressed charges through every step of the hearing process and ruling committee. In addition to their own cost according to the court ruling the fishing right wonders have to pay all legal costs to Arnarlax, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority and the Environment Agency of Iceland, says Kristín Edwald.
The fishing right owners now have two weeks to appeal this decision to the Appellate Court of Iceland.