Tuesday 17. September 2013

Students visit Ísafjarðardjúp

[mynd 1 h]This August, the sixth group of master's students enrolled at the University Centre. These are students from Germany, the UK, Canada, USA, Croatia, Finland and Denmark. Most students have now completed two courses.

Early September, the group visited Ísafjarðardjúp, instead of visiting southern Westfjords, as is customary at the beginning of each academic year.

First stop was Valagil, at the bottom of the neighbouring fjord Álftafjörður. The next stop was a small rural café, Litlibær, situated in a traditional Icelandic house in Skötufjörður. The café, specialising in warm waffles with rhubarb jam, is open during summer months.

The group then visited Nauteyri, a suggested site for fish farming, and discussed the site in relation to aquaculture in colder climates.

[mynd 2 v]Since few had been close to a glacier, a hike to Kaldalon was scheduled. Students were given the option to walk all the way to the ice edge of Drangajökull glacier, which is the only glacier in the Westfjords peninsula. The walk took almost three hours. Studies on the glacier were discussed in relation to climate change.

Finally, the group headed towards Heydalur ecofarm in Mjóifjörður, where we had dinner and stayed overnight.

The morning began with a group discussion on the use and planning of Ísafjarðardjúp in the present and future. Concepts such as public access, carrying capacity and visual quality were associated with the selected themes, e.g. existing and potential aquaculture operations; economic diversification options and opportunities; and high value tourism areas. Students were deeply moved by Drangajokull but had mixed opinions about whether it was right to add milestones or otherwise mark the trail better, as this could reduce the wilderness experience of hikers.

[mynd 3 h]Marine based innovation was the focus for the rest of the day. The group visited the seasalt factory Saltverk in Reykjanes. Great interest was shown in the company's production and marketing.

Finally, as the group headed back, a visit was paid to the aquaculture farm of HG in Súðavík. The group went on board Papey and Barði Ingibjartsson explained the ship's functions, research and development at HG, as well as future plans for salmon farming in Ísafjarðardjúp, e.g. outside of Nauteyri.