Fishing rights owners who launched a legal bid to close Arnarlax salmon farms must pay the company's legal costs. Photo: Arnarlax.

Icelandic angling rights owners lose second bid to close salmon farms

Iceland’s Appeals Court has dismissed the claims of the owners of salmon fishing rights in the river Haffjarðará, Akurholt and Geiteyri, against Iceland’s biggest salmon producer, Arnarlax, and both the country’s Food and Veterinary Authority and Environment Agency.

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“The fishing right owners had demanded that the fish farming licences of Arnarlax in Arnarfjörður would be annulled. Arnarlax, an Aquaculture Stewardship Council-certified company, is the largest farmer and producer of salmon in Iceland. But the Icelandic Court of Appeals, Landsrettur, confirmed the District Court of Reykjavik’s ruling and dismissed the claims. Landsrettur’s ruling is the final decision of the Icelandic courts,” said lawyer Kristín Edwald, representing Arnarlax, in a press release.

“The ground for dismissal was that the owners who had demanded the cancellation of the Arnarlax fish farming licences in Arnarfjörður did not have any particular legitimate interest in pursuing their lawsuit, which is a ground for dismissal according to Icelandic procedural law.

Rights owners must pay costs

“In addition to their own costs according to the court ruling the fishing rights owners have to pay all legal costs to Arnarlax, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority and the Environment Agency of Iceland, both before the District Court and the Court of Appeals.

“In essence, the Icelandic courts 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.

“Arnarlax has since 2009 been through a complicated licence application process with the Icelandic National Planning Agency (, Food and Veterinary Authorities ( and Environmental Agency of Iceland, Umhverfisstofnun ( where same interest groups have provided their comments and pressed charges through every step of the process and ruling committee.”