Looking for a caretaker for an island

Málmey in Skagafjörður.

Málmey in Skagafjörður. mbl.is/Einar Falur Ingólfsson

The municipality of Skagafjörður has advertised for a manager for the island Málmey , the largest island in Skagafjörður which has a lighthouse that was built in 1937.

The job of the manager includes observing and safeguarding bird life and other natural resources on the island. In addition, he/she shall also monitor all trips to the island and endeavour to give travellers the opportunity to enter the island to enjoy peace and observe bird life, as stated in the advertisement.

Sig­fús Ingi Sig­fússon, the municipality’s mayor in Skagafjörður, tells mbl.is that a caretaker has been with Málmey for decades. The arrangement came about when the old Hofshreppur district made an official lease agreement which allowed the use of the island and its benefits with the Icelandic Lighthouse and Ports Agency about the island. It stated that a caretaker was to be installed who was to closely monitor the life on the island and supervise all trips to Málmey.

Stepping down after 30 years as caretaker

Sig­fússon says that the one who is now leaving his job is getting up there in age and has asked to step down, so it’s time to find a new carer for Málmey. It’s Hart­mann Páll Magnús­son at Hofsós, who has been caretaker for the past decades. He told Vísir recently that his health was not so good so there was a time for a new carer to take his place. He said he took over the role of carer from Kjartan Hall­gríms­son at the farm Tjörn.

The lighthouse of Málmey island is on the southern part …

The lighthouse of Málmey island is on the southern part of the island. Photo/Gudmundur St Valdimarsson

The council of Skagafjörður discussed the retirement of Magnússon at a meeting last month. The council agreed to call for a new carer, as it has done.

At one time, Magnússon offered regular trips to the island­ but that­ has­ not been­ the­ case­ for some time according to Sigfússon. He ­says­ that­ he­ would­ hope­ that­ such­ trips would be established again, whether the new caretaker would do it him/herself or monitor such trips.

A similar size as Kársnes in Kópavogur

As before, Málmey is the largest island in Skagafjörður, or about 160 hectares. In comparison, it is almost equal to Kársnes in Kópavogur.

The island is a low-lying, but rises to the north. There is a lava heap, but on the south side, the island is made of tuff. There was farming on the island back in the day but it ceased in 1952, year after a residential building there burned down, shortly before Christmas 1951. Sig­fússon says that angelica can be found in many parts of the island, but Málmey island’s benefits have not been used for many years when it comes to hay making.

Pay in the form of profits from birds and drifting

The island of Málmey has a substantial seabird population, which is responsible for 90% of the catch of Northwest Iceland, or 6.5% of the total catch.

The fee a caretaker receives for the care of Málmey is to use the benefits the island gives. Sig-fússon says that the island is mainly used for birds within the quota that is permitted at each time. There have also been several drifts in the island that can be used.

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