Fishing company hits back at criticism over contribution to Iceland economy –

Fishing company hits back at criticism over contribution to Iceland economy Published:  25 October, 2011

SAMHERJI, Iceland’s fastest growing fishing company, has hit back hard against criticisms within the country that it is not contributing enough to the national economy.

In a strongly worded letter to its 800 plus employees, chief executive Thorstein Mar Baldvinsson and executive director Christian Vilhelmsson said their ownership of foreign fishing companies created a lot of work in Iceland and for Icelanders.

Samherji has extensive overseas interests including operations in the UK, Poland, Germany and the Faroes Islands. It has also a base in the Canary Islands. It is a vertically integrated seafood company, controlling a significant volume of fishing quota both in Iceland and abroad and operates a powerful fleet of fishing vessels; freezer and fresh fish trawlers, as well as multi purpose vessels, white fish factories and fish farming activities.  Samherji also runs extensive sales and marketing operations which are coordinated at the company´s head office.

Samherji is expanding rapidly and earlier this year it bought a number of trawlers from Faroe Seafood, which had gone into administration and Icelandic-based Brim Seafood for an estimated 95 million euros.

In the past few months there have been growing calls from left wing politicians and trade union officials for Icelandic fishing companies to process more fish at home rather than send it abroad in order to create more local employment. This has caused some concern on the Humber where processors depend largely on Icelandic whole fish. It was one of the issues raised when a Grimsby delegation visited Iceland last month.

Back in Reykjavik the two Samherji executives told their employees that the company had placed business worth 900 million Icelandic kroners (5.6 million euros) with Icelandic companies in the past six months alone, including money for shipping activities and fish processing equipment.

Answering criticism that the company was transferring large amounts of fish abroad, they disclosed that so far this year Samherji had imported 10 times more fish into Iceland for processing than it had sent out of the country and Samherji’s total contribution to the Icelandic exchequer and economy, again so far this year, was some two billion kroners – or 12.4 million euros (£10-million sterling).

They also pointed out that Samherji’s activities benefited the Icelandic economy in many other areas.The directors said any suggestion that Samherji sending jobs and fishing activity overseas at the expense of Iceland’s economy were totally false, adding that the company’s foreign activities were providing work for people in Iceland and revenue for the national economy.