Fish producers prepare to resume fish flights –

Fish producers prepare to resume fish flights Published:  20 April, 2010

ICELANDIC fish producers are preparing to resume air shipments of seafood to Britain following news that some UK airports are set to re-open today. But it will several days yet before there is a full normal service and there is still the possibility of another air shutdown if the volcanic ash cloud worsens.

The Icelandic  eruption and the consequent ash cloud has grounded all fish carrying aircraft since last Thursday, creating storage and production problems for fishing companies and fish buyers alike. Icelandic producers have lost an estimated £1-million since the start of the crisis. Much of the fish that was waiting at Keflavik Airport was taken back for freezing, but inevitably it will fetch a lower prices when it is eventually sold.

A lot now depends on how soon Iceland’s airports, which are very close to the erupting volcano, are allowed to resume flights again. Sea shipments are not affected and Grimsby handled more than 3,500 boxes yesterday – one of the best Mondays since before Easter.

Provided suitable slots can be obtained,  Scottish and northern England airports should receive the first seafood consignments which will then be forwarded to the processing plants by road.  Humberside Airport,  which is close to the large processing factories of Grimsby and Hull, is also due to re-open this afternoon  which  could mean that a resumption of the Icelandair fish flights from Reykjavik may not be far away.

The world’s largest fish farmer, Norway’s Marine Harvest, reduced its salmon harvest and Iceland put fresh fish exports on ice as air traffic was grounded. Around 15 per cent of the Norwegian salmon output is sent by air and it is estimated that fish farmers and have lost more than £3-million in failed exports.

However flights from northern Norway to North America have not been so badly hit so deliveries to the United States have been maintained, admittedly at a reduced level.On the import side supplies into Britain  of tuna from the Indian Ocean and of sea bass from Greece and Turkey have been halted and will not get back to normal until airports in the London area re-open.

And southern hemisphere salmon producers, notably in New Zealand, have received a surge in orders from Asia and the Middle East because of the flight ban in northern salmon producing countries like Scotland and Norway.