Iceland's Matorka suffers earthquake damage as volcano crisis continues

Grindavík area, home to a number of land-based fish farming projects, remains under high alert for volcanic activity.
Matorka facilities in Grindavik, Iceland.
Matorka facilities in Grindavik, Iceland. Photo: Matorka.

The Icelandic company Matorka, which farms arctic char at its land-based facility in Grindavík, has suffered damage from a series of earthquakes that shook the town on Friday 10 November.

The town of Grindavík has been evacuated while volcanic activity persists in the region, with the nearby volcano Fagradasfjall at risk of eruption.

Matorka's staff are all safe, and the fish farm is continuing to operate, the company confirmed, but "conditions remain challenging", Matorka said in a LinkedIn update.

Threat of volcanic eruption hangs over Grindavík and local fish farming operations

"Our hometown, Grindavík, was hit by several large earthquakes on Friday the 10th of November and the threat of a volcanic eruption still hangs over the town. The town has been evacuated and severe damage is evident," the company said.

"We express our gratitude to the Search and Rescue service, Police teams, Red Cross and all those who have aided the Grindavík community."

Diamonds are made under pressure. I guess our team members are all diamonds after this weekend. I could not be prouder to be part of this crew.
Christo du Plessis, Matorka CEO

Matorka team "doing an incredible job" under challenging circumstances

Matorka CEO Christo du Plessis posted his support for the Matorka workforce in a LinkedIn message: "Diamonds are made under pressure. I guess our team members are all diamonds after this weekend. I could not be prouder to be part of this crew," he wrote.
"All our staff are safe but due to last weekend's earthquakes, our fish farm situated just outside Grindavík sustained some damage, and current conditions remain challenging," the LinkedIn Matorka company statement read.

"Strict access limits are in place for safety reasons, yet our production team is doing an incredible job of managing the farm and caring for the fish under these difficult circumstances. "

Fagradalsfjall Volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula, pictured in July 2021.
Fagradalsfjall Volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula, pictured in July 2021.Photo: Adobe Stock.

Health and safety of staff, welfare of fish top priorities

"Our professional, dedicated team is prioritizing health and safety while tending to the needs of the fish. It's crucial to ensure the well-being of these living creatures. Our focus remains on the well-being of our staff and also the welfare of our fish." 

"We have been inundated with offers of support from many stakeholders, both locally and internationally, for which we are extremely grateful. We are very grateful to our critical suppliers who continue to make sure that we have adequate stock of feed, oxygen and other supplies so that we can operate as effectively as possible." 

"Our thoughts are with all Grindavíkings during this uncertain time," the company statement concluded.

Status of other fish farming projects near Grindavík as yet unconfirmed

Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula and specifically the area around Grindavík are home to a variety of other land-based fish farming projects at various stages of development.

GeoSalmo, Samherji and First Water (formerly Thor Landeldi) all have projects planned or underway in the affected area, but at the time of writing, as yet none of these companies have released information regarding the volcanic activity.

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