Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Nature

British billionaire attempts to buy farms in a E.Iceland fjord, causing family feuds

By Staff

  • Hafralónsá river in Þistilfjörður fjord One of the best salmon fishing rivers in Iceland the pristine Hafralónsá is located in one of the most remote inhabited fjords in Iceland, Þistilfjörður. Photo/Hrafn E. Hauksson.

The British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe has been offering farmers in Þistilfjörður fjord large sums of money to buy their farms. The bids have caused considerable friction among inhabitants in the fjord, even within families as people argue over whether the offers should be accepted or not, the local newspaper Fréttablaðið reports. All the offers are for farms which are part of popular salmon fishing rivers.

Read more: British billionaire buys land and rights to valuable salmon fishing rivers in Vopnafjörður fjord 

Selá, Vopnafjörður
Selá river Jim Ratcliffe has already bought farms by salmon fishing rivers in Vopnafjörður fjord, south of where he is currently bidding on farms. Photo/Orri Vigfússon.

The offers have been made in the name of Ratcliffe and an Icelandic investor who has similarly acquired numerous farms which encompass popular salmon fishing rivers. One of the owners of a farm in Þistilfjörður told Vísir that many of the lands had immense emotional value for the owners and their families. "They are calling up every single landowner in Þistilfjörður fjord, and in my opinion the whole business operates like a poison within families and the entire community."

She questioned the morality of purchasing large numbers of farms to acquire exclusive rights to rivers. Her brother, described the attempts to purchase the rivers, which he says started more than a year ago, as a dark deed: "We feel people are going too far here, and that they are operating under the cover of darkness." The family is determined not to sell.

Read more: British billionaire buys vast farm in the highlands. Intends to do “absolutely nothing” with it

Ratcliffe has previously purchased land in Vopnafjörður fjord, which is to the south of Þistilfjörður fjord. In December we covered his purchases of farms which held fishing rights to two popular salmon fishing rivers in the fjord, Selá and Hofsá rivers. Ratcliffe is an avid fly fisher, and he has explained that his purchases are only aimed at conserving the salmon stocks. He has also purchased the vast highland farm Grímsstaðir á Fjöllum. The headwaters of many popular salmon fishing rivers in East Iceland are within the vast farm.

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