Crunching Sustainability Pt. 1: Iceland

Smash the Mirror tries to bring solid economic and rational thinking to sustainability, geopolitics, and current events. To that end, this is a pilot post for a new series on how the Credit Crunch of 08-09 will impact the environmental sustainability of human life. Posts in this series will appear under the tag “Crunching Sustainability“.

By now, the collapse of Iceland’s governing coalition has been circulating through the media for a while. To sum it up in a single phrase, the cause of the fall was the economic crisis and monetary policy. That is why, according to the Washington Post article, there is a new push by some citizens and the country’s Democratic Socialist Party to join the European Union.

Fishing Boats

Fishing boats tied up along a pier.

The Euro has rapidly cemented its reputation as a stable currency, and that appeals to the Icelanders who feel they have been betrayed by inadequate policy-making. Unfortunately, the EU also has its failures, and the fishery management policies are foremost among them. So out of control are the European Union’s boats that The Economist’s special report on the sea sea (1/3/09) directly contrasted their failures with the extraordinarily successful fishery stewardship in Iceland. The report highlighted the European Union’s falling production and their usage of fishing agreements brokered with foriegn, sometimes corrupt or desperate nations.

In the very same feature, Iceland’s own fishery policies were touted as some of the world’s best. Their caps are informed by credible scientists and are enforced by thorough inspections. They also make use of tradeable permits. So severe is the difference that The Economist asserts that the EU’s broken fishery policy has been the biggest obstacle so far to Iceland joining.

Of course, Iceland’s collective desire to be included in the EU is still a matter of speculation. However, if Iceland does seek and receive membership in the wake of the crisis, it may have a very negative effect on the health of the North Atlantic fisheries that provide 12.5% of the island nation’s GDP (also from The Economist). Hopefully, if they do enter the Union it will be as a nation leading Brussels to reform, and not one that is simply forced to accept the EU’s own backwards regulations.


One Response

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