Fly Life Magazine

British Billionaire Buys Land in Iceland to Protect Salmon

Gorgeous Atlantic salmon. Julia Carpenter releases a bright salmon on the Bonaventure River, 24 June. Nathan Wilbur/ASF.

By JELENA ĆIRIĆ, Iceland Monitor /Atlantic Salmon Federation /August 12, 2019 /

England’s richest man, Jim Ratcliffe, has over the last year, bought a lot of land in Iceland and is now one of the biggest single landowners in the country. Ratcliffe got to know Iceland through fishing. Enchanted with the untouched nature in north east Iceland and the beautiful rivers full of salmon “It’s one of these places, it’s a magnificent landscape and it’s not really been spoilt by any sense, by any over population by people. It’s a very natural environment.” Photo Iceland Monitor.

Jim Ratcliffe, UK’s richest man, says his most recent land purchase in Iceland is part of his ongoing measures to protect the country’s wild salmon stocks. Ratcliffe stated as much in a press release sent to RÚV this morning. The ultimate goal is to make salmon fishing in Iceland the best and most sustainable in the world.

The press release states that the British mogul has expanded his plans of investment in local projects – in Iceland’s northeast region with the aim to protect salmon in that area’s main fishing rivers. Ratcliffe aims to protect the rivers’ surrounding land as well as the fragile ecosystem of the area as a whole.

“Overfishing threatens the North Atlantic salmon stock, and it is decreasing in rivers everywhere. The northeastern part of Iceland is one of few salmon spawning areas that has escaped [this trend], and I want to do what I can to protect the area,” Ratcliffe is quoted as saying in the press release. Ratcliffe owns other properties in the region, for example in Vopnafjörður, where he has made efforts toward conserving the unique nature of the area alongside residents and other landowners.

A holistic approach to conservation

The press release outlines conservation measures planned for the next five years, which include expanding the salmon spawning area by installing salmon ladders in Hafralónsá, Hofsá, and Miðfjarðará rivers in Vopnafjörður. Fertilized roe will also be released into the rivers, as well as into Selá, where Ratcliffe’s efforts are reportedly bearing fruit through a growing salmon population.

In collaboration with communities in the northeast, Ratcliffe is also working to combat soil erosion and improving the ecosystems surrounding salmon rivers, in part by supporting reforestation efforts. He is also conducting a long-term study of the wellbeing of Icelandic salmon in rivers and out at sea, in collaboration with the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute as well as local and international universities.

Foreigners’ land purchase a hot topic

Land purchase by foreigners has been in the public discourse lately, with many pointing out that Iceland’s regulations regarding the purchase of land by foreigners are laxer than in neighboring countries. The Icelandic government is currently reviewing the existing legislation with the consideration of tightening requirements for land purchase.

Featured Image: An Atlantic salmon is released on Bonaventure River, Quebec in this handout photo from the Atlantic Salmon Federation. KELSEY TAYLOR/ASF.

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