Patreksfjörður town in the southern part of West Fjords
Updated: Apr 1
Mentioned in The Book of Settlements, an important text in the history of Iceland, Patreksfjörður fjord has been occupied by people since the 9th century, mostly on farms. Patreksfjörður didn’t grow into a village until the late 18th century and the beginning of the 20th century, like most other towns and villages by the shoreline in Iceland. Due to the proximity of the rich fishing grounds, farmers sought food in the ocean for livelihood, surviving throughout many centuries in this fashion. Later, the fishing post developed into a trading post when foreign and local entrepreneurs became interested in fish and fish products. The origin of several such small towns and villages around Iceland can be traced to the existence of rich fishing grounds right by the shore. Other factors that counted in their growth are the development of boats and vessels, trading with other countries, and laws and regulations defining “who can fish.”
Patreksfjörður: A victim of the fishing quota law
Patreksfjörður, like many of the small towns and villages in the West Fjords, is an excellent example of a place that had all the necessary resources to grow and sustain itself as a fishing town. Unfortunately, after the Icelandic Government created the fishing quota system in 1990, Patreksfjörður was deprived of its natural fishing rights and traditions. In 1981, the population of the thriving fishing town was more than 1000; today, the inhabitants comprise approximately 720 people as of January 2022. The decline is, in essence, the effect of the quota system.
The fishing industry remains the largest employer
Although large fishing boats and trawlers have disappeared from the Patreksfjörður fleet along with the quota, fisheries and fish processing remain to be the primary industry. The boats are smaller and have limited permission to the rich fishing grounds, taking advantage of their allowances whenever possible. In recent years, salmon fish farming in the fjords has also turned into a solid base for the economy in both villages in the Vesturbyggð Municipality. Other inhabitants work in the service sector, and as an increasing number of people discover the beauty, fascinating landscapes, and history of the West Fjords, more people have been opting to work in tourism-related industries.
Excellent service and growing activity around tourism
Today, Patreksfjörður is part of a larger municipality, Vesturbyggð, which also includes the nearby village of Bíldudalur and most of the old rural districts in the surrounding fjords and valleys. The municipality offers the standard services provided to most towns and villages in Iceland: a preschool, an elementary and middle school, a library, and a community center. The municipality also collaborates with the Snæfellsnes Peninsula High School, which has a small branch in Patreksfjörður, enabling the people in the community to receive an education closer to home. There is also an adequate sports center and a swimming pool. The service reflects the immeasurable worth placed on education as well as the well-being and care for others reflected in the community. A majority of the houses were built in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, and all homes are heated with electricity. For those traveling in the south part of the West Fjords, Patreksfjörður is an excellent place to stay as the village offers accommodation and boasts of an excellent camping site. The town’s beautiful swimming pool offers a spectacular view of the beautiful landscape, even from the warm and cozy hotspots.